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Full text of "Community Media Review, Vol. 17, No. 2, 1994"

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The Journal of the 
Alliance for Community Media 



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Honoring radio and television programs that enrich their audiences 
through a values-centered vision of humanity. 

Program Categories: 

Entertainment • The Arts • News and Information • Religion • 
Community Awareness Campaigns • Children's Programming • 
Features • PSAs • Stations of the Year Awards • Personal 
Achievement Award 



Deadline: July 13, 1994 



For Information and/or Entry Forms call: 
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MARCH/APRIL 1994 

VOLUME IT, NUMBER 2 



CMR EDITORIAL BOARD 

Dirk Koning, Chair 
Deb Vinsel, Information Services Chair 
Bob Devine, Heidi Mau, 
Vel Wiley 

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF THIS ISSUE 

Bob Devine 

MANAGING EDITOR 

Tim Goodwin 

OPERATIONS 

Sue Fitzgerald, John llaafke 

NATIONAL OFFICE 

Kelly Matthews, Operations Assistant 

ALLIANCE for COMMUNITY MEDIA 
BOARD of DIRECTORS 

Anthony Riddle, Chairperson 
Julie S. Omelchuck, Vice Chairperson 
Kari Peterson, Secretary 
Carl Kucharski, Treasurer 
Marilyn Ackerman, Fiona Boneham, Pamela Brown, 
Alan Bushong, Paul Congo, Sue Diciple, Ann Ffyrm, 
Hap Haasch, James Horwood, Paul Le Valley, Anne 
Mitchell, Sharon Mooney, Penelope Place, Nantz 
Rickard, Richard Turner, GregVawter, Deborah Vinsel, 
David Vogel, LaMonte Ward, Rika Welsh, Rob Wilson 



ALLIANCE 
FOR 

COMMUNITY 
MEDIA 

Community Media Review Iissn 1074-9004) is pub- 
lished bi-monthly by the Alliance for Community Media, 
Inc. (formerly the National Federation of Local Cable 
Programmers) Subscriptions $25 a year for six issues. 
Send subscriptions, memberships, address changes and 
inquiries to the Alliance for Community Media, 666 1 1 til 
St. NW, Suite 806, Washington, DC 20001 -4542. Phone 
202/393-2650 • Fax 202/393-2653. 

Address editorial and advertising inquiries to 
Community Media Review, 15 Ionia SW, Suite 201, Grand 
Rapids, MI 49503-4113. Phone 616/454-6663 • Fax 
616/454-6698, 

Bulk orders for additional copies considered individu- 
ally. Contact the national office for information on rates 
and delivery. 

© 1994 by the Alliance for Community Media, Inc. 
(formerly the National Federation of Local Cable 
Programmers). Prior written permission of the Alliance 
for Community Media required for all reprints or usage. 

Produced through the studios of City Media, Inc. 




In this Issue 



Ope ners 

Public Policy, Alan Bushong 3 / Roxie Cole, 1931-1994 3 / 
Hometown Video Festival 4 / Videotapes Available 4/ 
Errata 4 / 1994 International Conference & Trade Show 5 / 
PEG Access in Hawaii 5 / Aloha Kaua 5 

Access , Advocacy & Activism 

Access is Activism, Bob Devine 7 / From Media Artist to Video 
Activist, Roger Bailey 8 / The Revolving Grant Fund of Manhattan 
Neighborhood Network, Victor Sanchez 11 / Activating Access, 
David Keyes 12 / Shooting Sacred Cows in the Himalayas, Peter 
Lowe 14 / Training for Social Activism, Bob Devine 12 I Lessons 
from Vancouver Cooperative Radio, Dorothy Kidd 19 / Citizen 
Producers in Eastern Europe, 1989-1991, Chris Hill 23 / Yet Another 
Cautionary Note on the Electronic Superhighway Bob Devine 25 

Resources 

Youth-Produced and Youth -Identified Video 10 / An Activist 
Bookshelf 13 / Guides to Activist Film and Video 21 / Publica- 
tions on Radio 22 / Resources on the National Information 
Infrastructure 27 / Coalition for Independent Media 28 

Cover art: Simon Coffin, Antioch College 

To Roxie 

With the utmost respect and admiration, we dedicate this issue 
of Community Media Review to the life and spirit of Roxie 
Cole. Few ever exhibit the passion and dedication for this field that 
Roxie did. This access "stuff" coursed through her veins and fed her 
heart. In that, we can all take a lesson in living from Roxie. 

, *" ... " 

"For us. ..the distinction between past, present and future is only 
an illusion. Albeit a stubborn one. " 

- Albert Uinstcin 




CMR • 1 







(Ill' 1 











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What current owner-operators say about 
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"I can watch it taking calls from my office, and know 
that we're serving the community. The feedback helps 
u$ understand our viewing audience's likes and 
dislikes. " _ Dg vjd VogQ{ General Manager, 

Community Television of Knoxville 

"The system is amazing in its simplicity and power. It 
involves the viewing audience directly and documents 
every phone call it receives. It helps make us 
indispensable to the community. " 

-Fred Thomas, Executive Director, 
Fairfax Cable Access 

"Since installing the Interactive Video Bulletin Board, 
we've gotten more interest and participation from 
non-profits than we had in the last 10 years. It's less 
work, more effective, and it's fun for viewers to use!" 

- Lynn Carillo-Cruz, Executive Director, 
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local non-profits. During September.. .participating 
organizations reported that an average of 65% of their 
calls resulted from viewership of the Interactive Video 
Bulletin Board. " 

- Barbara Popovic, Executive Director, 
Chicago Access Corporation 



For a brochure and videotape, contact 

INTERACTIVE PUBLICATIONS 

1651 N. DAYTON STREET, SUITE 306, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60614 
312-642-0884 - FAX: 312-642-1735 



PUBLIC POLICY 



Moving Backward in the Courts 
and Ahead on Legislation 
By Alan Bushong 

FCC Censorship Rules. On February 16, 
the U.S. Court of Appeals in the DC, 
Circuit decided to rehear as a full panel 
the FCC Indecency Rules and the FCC Broadcast 
Indecency Safe Harbor cases. Rulings favorable 
to the Alliance and communities had been 
issued last November by the three judge panel of 
Chief Judge Mikva and Judges Wald and 
Edwards. Shea & Gardner will continue to repre- 
sent the Alliance in this case, which will be heard 
October 19. The Alliance is concerned by this 
action, but will continue to press for a successful 
conclusion. The stay of implementation remains 
in effect. 

The Alliance once again thanks those who gen- 
erously contributed to public policy initiatives. 
The Alliance paid $1 0,000 to Shea & Gardner to 
cover a portion of out-of-pocket costs in a case 
which has easily reached six figures worth of 
legal services. 

Any attempts at censorship should be immedi- 
ately reported to the Alliance office. 

The Public Interest Summit. Over 600 
members of public interest organizations con- 
verged on Washington, DC on March 29 for the 
Public Interest Summit coordinated by the 
Benton Foundation and former Alliance Chair 
Andrew Blau. Alliance Chair Tony Riddle partici- 
pated on the first panel "Delivering the Goods: 
Meeting Public Needs?" Morning session pan- 
elists and audience questioners frequently 
referred to public, educational and governmen- 
tal access. A primary benefit resulting from the 
summit is the stimulus to ongoing coalition work 
on current legislation. 

Legislation. The Alliance continues work 
with coalition groups in the House and Senate. 
The Alliance is concerned about reserving free 
channel capacity and in providing funding for 
PEG access services, equipment and facilities. 

Alliance Chair Tony Riddle testified at House 
hearings on HR 3636 (the Markey Bill). Thanks to 
work with Representatives Markey (MA) and 
Richardson (NM) and their staffs, the House ver- 
sion includes language which requires compara- 
ble PEG access requirements for cable and 
telephone companies providing television ser- 
vices. The Alliance remains concerned, however, 
that the lack of local control proposed in the bill 
will hinder the flow or resources to communities. 

Check the Alliance Bulletin Board for up-to- 
date news on legislation. 

Alan Bushong chairs the Alliance's Public Policy 
Committee. He is executive director of Capital Com- 
munity Television, 585 Liberty St., Salem, OR 97308- 
2342. Telephone 5031588-2288. Fax 503/588-6055. 



Roxie Cole, 1931-1994 

Roxie Cole died 
February 8, 1994, in 
Dayton, Ohio. As in 
her life, Roxie 1 s death horn 
cancer brought her loved 
ones together, appreciating 
and missing all she had 
given them and mirroring 
that love, too. She had suf- 
fered more than her share 
in 63 years, but Roxie also loved life and 
made a real difference, especially in com- 
munity access. 

During the mid-seventies Roxie became 
a pioneer community programmer while 
working as a secretary for the Dayton- 
Miami Valley Consortium of Colleges and 
Universities. After her boss uncovered 
some federal grant money, Roxie was 
named Operations Manager for the 
DMVCC's REACH series, offering sub- 
scribers in such cabled communities as 
Xenia and Wilberforce live and taped 
instructional programs on life skills from 
diapering to first aid. 

When the REACH money ran out, Roxie 
found new horizons surrounding Dayton's 
cable bidding war. Roxie started Access- 
Dayton in 1977 in an old white house on 
the grounds of a local seminary with left- 




over "Reach" gear, $5,000 in 
seed money from the city 
and a state grant of $30,000. 
This Executive Director often 
asked her staff, "What mat- 
ters most to Joe and Mary 
Beercan?" and kept their 
focus on public service. 

Ten years later, Access- 
Dayton was recognized as 
the outstanding public 
access center in the nation by the 
National Federation of Local Cable Pro- 
grammers (now Alliance for Community 
Media). In 1985, Roxie herself received 
our organization's highest personal 
honor, The George Stoney Award for 
Humanistic Communications. 

As a life member, Roxie Cole found great 
allies and dear friends in the NFLCP 
(Alliance). Even among such activists, she 
was both shaker and mover. When Rox 
called herself, as she often did, "the bitch 
in the back of tire room," not everybody 
smiled. But, her forceful questions came at 
important times, often stopping us from 
just doing the comfortable thing and forc- 
ing us to consider what was right and fair. 

Maybe that is why we miss her so - we 
always knew Roxie cared. 

- Greg Vawter for Community Media Review 



Melissa Mills, program! marketing assistant, and Richard Latimer, production assistant, 
of Dayton Access Television, are compiling an historical tape dealing with the life and work 
of Roxie Cole. They're looking for materials of Roxie' s involvement in the national and 
regional NFLCP (Alliance) and any archival material of Roxie at DAW, conferences or par- 
ties on 1/2", 3/4" or reel to reel video tape. Photographs are also welcome, as are short videos 
of any thoughts and feelings about Roxie you would like to share. The resulting half hour 
documentary should be ready for showing at the national conference in Hawaii. Time is 
short. Contact them at DAW, 280 Leo St., Dayton, OH 45404. Telephone 513/223-5311. 




Roxie and her Access-Dayton staff in March 1 990. 



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1,800 Entries in Hometown 

Local cable programmers from 
across the United States and 
Canada sent an even 1,800 entries 
to the Alliance's 1994 Hometown 
Video Festival. 

Entries came from 377 cities in 
40 states, Guam, and six Canadian 
provinces. 

Now in it 17th year, Lhe 
Hometown Video Festival is the 
oldest and largest video competi- 
tion honoring the work of local 
cable programmers. The Festival 
includes 37 categories, including 
four "Overall Excellence" cate- 
gories which honor outstanding 
public, educational, and govern- 
ment access facilities and local 
origination centers. 

Hometown entries are judged in 
a two-step process involving 32 
different access facilities and 
cable companies as preliminary 
sites. Each site selected four final- 
ists from their assigned categories 
which were forwarded to the 
Boston Community Access and 
Programming Foundation, this 
year's final judging site. 

Hometown winners will be 
announced and awards presented 
on July 21, 1994 in Honolulu, 
Hawai'i at an Awards Ceremony 
during the International 
Conference and Trade Show of the 
Alliance for Community Media. 

Patron sponsor is Bravo. 
Sustaining sponsors of the 1994 
Hometown Video Festival include 
Multichannel News, Cablevision 
magazine, and Cable World maga- 
zine. Category sponsors include 
Cablevision Systems Corporation, 
The Discovery Channel, 3M Audio 
and Video Markets Division, and 
The Weather Channel. 

For more information: Randy 
VanDalsen, Hometown Video 
Festival, c/o The Buske Group, 
3001 "J" Street, Suite 201, Sacra- 
mento, CA 95816, 916/441-6277. 

Counter-programming 
Videotape Available 

A seven minute video entided, 
"Why Is This Stuff On Anyway?" is 
available from Chicago Access 
Corporation. This video was pro- 
duced by Chicago Access in coop- 
eration with the American Civil 
Liberties Union and features an 
interview with ACLU staff Counsel 
Jane Whicher, who discusses the 



First Amendment virtues of public 
access television. 

This tape provides a concise 
description of public access televi- 
sion and why it is neither legal or 
desirable to censor speech from 
access channels. 

Copies of the tape are available 
at no charge. To obtain a copy 
send a blank VHS or 3/4" U-matie 
tape with return postage to Greg 
Boozell, Program Director, 
Chicago Access Corporation, 322 
S, Green Street, Chicago, IL 60607, 
or call 312/738-1400. 

Videotape on Nil Available 

Computer Professionals for 
Social Responsibility (CPSR) held 
a conference April 23-24 on public 
interest issues in the National 
Information Infrastructure. The 
conference was co-sponsored by 
Cambridge Community TV and 
the Center for Media Education. 

A two-hour edited tape of the 
selected speakers is available and 
includes authors Herbert Schiller 
and Benjamin Barber and repre- 
sentatives of the Alliance, Center 
for Media Education, Freenets 
Community Networking, and 
OMB Watch. 

Cost of the tape is $20. Checks 
should be made out to CPSR/ 
Boston and sent to Hans Klein, 
179 Appleton St., Cambridge, MA 
02138. Telephone 617/876-9127. 
Email: hkklein@mit.edu. 

— — ~-^3 




Errata 

The last issue of CMR featured 
an evocative cover photo (shown 
above) which should have been 
credited to Ivan Hunter. The 
photo was a fitting tribute to the 
issue's theme, Media Literacy. 

Also in that issue, the two pho- 
tos appearing with a story on the 
National Telemedia Council 
should have been attributed to 
Paul Whiting. 



4 • CMR 



Hawaii Welcomes International Access Advocates 

The 50th state selected as this year's site for the Alliance for Community Media's 
1994 International Conference & Trade Show, July 20-23 



The Alliance has selected Hawai'i as this year's 
host state for its annual conference scheduled 
for July 20-23 at the Ala Moana Hotel in 
Honolulu. Kai 'i kaleo, e ho'omau ke aka. This 
Hawaiian phrase which means Protect the Voice, 
Perpetuate the Vision, underscores the theme of 
Community Media and Technological Convergence 
for this year's 1994 International Conference and 
Trade Show. 

The Alliance selected Hawai'i as this year's confer- 
ence site in part because of the leadership access 
centers on the islands are showing as models for 
other centers around the U.S. and around the world. 
Hawaiians have had to overcome unique communi- 
cations challenges related to geographic isolation 
and multi-cultural constituencies and have emerged 
as leaders in the use of access media. 

The Alliance anticipates that this year's conference 
will bring together an estimated 1,000 people from 
around the country and the world. More than 42 
workshops are planned with presentations from 
more than 100 policy makers, access leaders, attor- 
neys, consultants, producers and other supporters of 
community media. Topics will highlight the emerg- 
ing technologies and the latest in community-based 
communications in addition to presenting new infor- 
mation on franchise renewal, public policy, fundrais- 
ing, strategic planning and other important 
community- access issues. 

Keynote presenter Larry Irving, Jr. will share his 
vision of what the technological future means for our 
communities and how citizens will access these criti- 
cal communications tools. Irving is Assistant 
Secretary for Communications and Information and 
the Administrator of the National Telecommuni- 
cations and Information Administration (NTIA). 



Workshops will include: 
The National Information Infrastruc-ture - 

Everyone is talking about the Nil but have you won- 
dered what exactly it is? Informed presenters will 
answer your questions and demonstrate how we can 
have an impact in legislative and policy debates. 

Community Communications Centers Work 
shops will examine how public, educational and gov- 
ernment access centers can position themselves to 
continue to provide valuable community communi- 
cations services in our ever-changing information 
technology age. Participants will design a community 
communications center of the future and develop a 
plan to meet the evolving communications need of 
our communities. 

Technology and Technical issues - How will com- 
pression, fiber optics, telephony, computers, and 
cable systems work together in the fast approaching 
telecommunications landscape? Will you understand 
what's happening before you get left out of the loop? 
Ptesenters will make technology easy to understand 
and will analyze new communications technologies 
as to their usefulness to access, educational and gov- 
ernment entities. Technology workshops will also 
provide hands-on experience highlighting non-linear 
editing systems, and an analysis of formats compet- 
ing for access dollars. The latest software for organiz- 
ing production facilities, offices and tracking data 
bases will also be showcased. 

Cyberschool - Proactive approaches for assessing 
the telecommunications landscape in your town. 
Strategies for moving your access center beyond 
cable. Practical examples of current and emerging 
community communications models in the U.S. and 
abroad. Exercises, techniques and handouts that can 
be adapted locally. 



PEG Access in Hawai'i 



A Mold for the Future of Community Media and High Technology 



The upcoming Alliance conference theme 
Community Media and Technological Convergence: 
Protect the Voice, Perpetuate the Vision sets new 
sights on the uses for technology - whether through 
the fiber optics of cable television or new frontiers in 
cyberspace - whether worldwide teletalk and video- 
conferencing or used as a preserving force for cul- 
tures striving to exist in the next century. 

The state of Hawai'i has been heralded as a great 
supporter of high technology. But Hawaii's unique- 
ness lies not only in its high tech reputation but 
because it combines such ambitions with its cultur- 
ally diverse and economically shifting community. As 
its decades-long agricultural-based economy began 




to wane in the 1970s, the state, 
looked to the future by fostering 
an information-based society. 

Perhaps the greatest, most 
visionary accomplishment is 
the collaborative nature of 
Hawaii's development of PEG 
access. As one of only three states in the nation that 
regulates cable, Hawaii's access corporations are 
positioned as part of the state strategy for the devel- 
opment of high tech industries and telecommunica- 
tions infrastructure. 

By managing PEG access as a collaborative effort 

continued next page 



Aloha Kaua 

(Warm Greetings) 

The theme for this year 
is Kia 'I Kaleo E Ho'o Mau 
Ke Aha (Protect the 
Voice, Perpetuate the 
Vision). In the Hawaiian 
language, one word may 
have several meanings, 
such as Kia % which 
means guard, watchman, 
caretaker. The Alliance 
for Community Media is 
just that. The word 
malama could have been 
used, but the term is deli- 
cate, whereas Kia 'I 
shows strength and 
endurance. Ho'o mau, to 
continue, preserve, 
endure, last - this is what 
we perceive the Alliance 
does, with its continuing 
efforts in Washington, DC 
and through its confer- 
ences. Aka means care- 
fully, slowly. 

The Hawaiian language 
is not spoken like the 
English language, but is 
composed by a deep emo- 
tional feeling within the 
statement. Our theme 
could have been 
expressed in many ways, 
but to capture the 
essence of the Alliance, 
we felt that Kia 'I Kaleo E 
Ho'o Mau Ke Aka reveals 
. the true spirit of the 
Alliance for Community 
Media. The theme also 
holds great spiritual trea- 
sure for both the Native 
Hawaiian, the people of 
Hawai'i and those afar. 

Mai keia manawa a mau 
toa aku (From now to 
eternity, now and for- 
ever), 

- Alfred "Junior" Ekau, Jr. 
Chair, Local Planning 
Committee 



cm • 



Sis 

m 



If you haven't joined the 
Alliance for Community Media, 
here's how to become 
a member. 



MEMBERSHIP ENROLLMENT FORM 

(Pleasecheck all that apply) 

Yes, I want to join the Alliance for Community Media. I ama(n): 

□ Access Staff Member Q Access Board Member 
Q Community Producer □ Cable Regulatory Staff or 

LJ Other Board Member 

ORGANIZATIONAL 

□ Over $100,000 annual revenues $275 

□ $10,000 to $100,000 annual revenues $175 

□ Under $10,000 annual revenues $ 75 

All organizational memberships expire on September 30th of each 
year. Join between April and September and pay half the annual rate. 

INDIVIDUAL 

□ Affiliated (available only if your organization is a member: 
includes paid staff, volunteer producers, board members, orother 
unpaid individuals associated with a member organization) 

□ Staff $35 □ Volunteer $25 

I I At-Large (includes professional or volunteer individuals who are 
not associated with a member organization) 

Q Advocate (volunteer) $30 □ Professional (salaried) $75 

□ Patron $120 □ Life $1,000 

All individual memberships expire one year from the last day of the 
month in which you join. 

SPECIAL CONTRIBUTION 

I am including an additional amount to further support the activities 
of the Alliance and help broaden participation in the organization. 

□ $10 n$15 Q$25 D$40 n$50 □$ 

SUBSCRIPTION ONLY (not a membership) 

I I Community Television Review (6 issues) $25 

(Canada $30, other non U.S. $35) CTR Subscriptions expire one year 

from the last day of the month in which you sign up. 

TOTAL AMOUNT ENCLOSED $ 

NAME AND ADDRESS (Please print) 



Membership name [inrtlvidualor organization] 



Contact person (organ isational members only] 



MallLngAddress 



City 

PtlOM [ ) . 



Zip 



Fax [_ 



Name of organization of affiliation [affiliated members only) 

TYPE OF ORGANIZATION 

Q Nonprofit Q Educational institution Library 

n Government L~H Cable system d Other for profit org. 

TYPE OF FACILITY (please check all that apply) 

n Public access Q Education access H Government access 

Q Local origination l~l Leased access l~l Other 

D EM OG RAP H I CS (individual members only) 

This optional information will help us to better serve current and 

potential members. 

n Black □ White D Hispanic l~l Asian or Pacific blander 

|~~| Native American l~l Other O Female l~l Male 

Mail check or money order payable to the Alliance for Community 
Media, 666 11th Street, N.W, Suite 806, Washington, D.C 20001-4542. 



between public, education and government entities, many alliances 
have been forged. For example, all access centers in the state may 
carry programming delivered through a point to point microwave ser- 
vice provided by the local PBS affiliate, a service benefiting the public 
school and the state university systems especially. On O'ahu, one 
campus in the university system has been contracted to serve as a 
satellite center providing facilities to the public. Also on O'ahu, the 
access channel providing public affairs and issues programming (as 
opposed to a "government channel") gives the public equal time to 
present issues independent of government control. Never the 'twain 
shall meet? Not in Hawai'i. 

Franchise renewal, regulated by the state, led to the creation of non- 
profit access centers in each county beginning in 1990. Serving the island 
of O'ahu, 'Olelo: The Corporation for Community Television has one of 
the most generous awards for PEG access support since the 1984 Cable 
Act went into effect. Founded in 1990, 'Olelo is also the model for PEG 
access on the outer islands of Kaua'i, Maui and the Big Island of Hawai'i. 
HoTke: The Kaua'i Community Television opened its doors in July 1993, 
with Akaku; Maui Community Television beginning services to its Maui 
communities in October of the same year. Na Leo '0 Hawai'i, on the Big 
Island of Hawai'i, is currently in the process of establishing its organiza- 
tional structure and determining community needs. 

The technological environment in Hawai'i is also one of the most 
inspiring in the nation. 

>■ The state Public Utilities Commission is currently investigating 
Hawai'i's telecommunication infrastructure, with 'Olelo acting as 
intervener in the proceedings. 

>■ The Maui High Performance Computing Center, one of only 12 
such enterprises in the United States, is Hawai'i's vehicle on the infor- 
mation superhighway. 

>• The Hawaiian Wide Area Integrated Information Access Network 
(HAWAIIAN) links the state's government centers and technically sup- 
ports Hawaii FYI, a public electronics services gateway. Hawaii FYI is 
one of the programs managed by Hawai'i INC (Hawaii Information 
Network Corporation), a public corporation established by the state to 
promote the development of an information industry in Hawai'i. 

> The State Department of Education and University of Hawai'i are 
piloting Video Connect, the new GTE Hawaiian Tel service offered 
through its World Class Network. Eight sites on six islands will be con- 
nected simultaneously through voice-activated controls for digital 
vid eo conferencing. 

>■ The nonprofit Manoa Innovation Center, managed by the High 
Technology Development Corporation, provides seed money and 
facilities for start-up companies developing high-tech products. 

>• The islands' access centers carry programming via the Hawai'i 
Interactive Television System (HITS) network, a point-to-point 
microwave link managed by Hawai'i Public Television. The multi- 
channel, closed-circuit system delivers signals among the six main 
islands, turning traditional classrooms into video learning spaces for 
the State Department of Education and the University of Hawai'i's 
seven campuses. 

> 'Olelo is the first PEG access corporation to provide regular cover- 
age of the state legislature. Also delivered by HITS, the gavel to gavel 
coverage of the legislature, taped in Honolulu, is carried to each 
island, giving constituents across the state a living-room view of their 
government representatives at work. 

PEG access in Hawai'i has fully embraced the enterprise of a com- 
prehensive information infrastructure. By delivering cable and related 
technology to new limits, Hawai'i's access centers support the com- 
munities they were entrusted to serving by carrying their voice further 
and strengthening their vision. 



6 • CMR 



ACCESS 



is Activism 



Oublic access is by nature activist. It involves bringing private citizens into public life, encouraging 
civic involvement and the practice of local culture, and providing the means for communities to 
discuss and debate issues of importance. It creates a public space free from the interventions of the 
state and the constraints of the marketplace in which it is possible to speak one's mind, articulate grievances, 
test ideas, dialogue with others, and organize around issues and concerns or common cultural interests. 

Public access intervenes in the 'culture of silence' created by the mass media. While some argue that the lack 
of participation on the part of the disenfranchised can be attributed to apathy lack of interest or even laziness, 
and that strong participation is a consequence of a high level of political awareness, John Gaventa (Power and 
Powerlessness: 1984) argues that it may well be true that it is participation itself 'which builds and enhances 
political consciousness. Access provides participants with the sort of experiences which build self-esteem, 
agency, and critical consciousness. Public access recognizes that the creation 
and circulation of culture is linked with the development of political conscious- 
ness. In communities all across America, access creates activists. 

Public access in the United States was born of the activist efforts of a coali- 
tion of independent artists, community activists, social visionaries and public 
policy makers. This diverse coalition proved to be a powerful force in shaping 
public policy with regard to telecommunications and in championing die pub- 
lic good. The coming of the National Information Infrastructure seems to be 
framed more in private than in public terms; the infrastructure will deliver pri- 
vatized services and will be market-driven. A coalition of public interest groups 
has formed a Telecommunications Policy Roundtable in an attempt to set a 
public agenda for the information infrastructure, but given the cast of powerful commercial forces lined up to 
build the electronic superhighway, one wonders if the public interest coalition is as broad, as deep or as activist 
as it needs to be to play a significant role in this round of policy-making. 

This issue of CMR is about activism, activists, advocacy and community based media. Roger Bailey provides 
some insight into the intersection of the artistic impulse and the activist commitment with regard to environ- 
mental issues. Peter Lowe provides an inspiring profile of high-concept, low-resource community television in 
Nepal. In her article on Vancouver Cooperative Radio, Dorothy Kidd frames some provocative questions and 
suggests some interesting lessons for public access drawn from various models of community radio in Canada. 
Chris Hill profiles independent media activism in eastern Europe during a period of dramatic political, eco- 
nomic and social reform, and draws parallels between the post-reform erosion of public space in Hungary, 
Czechoslovakia and Romania and our own situation in the United States. In the access arena, David Keyes dis- 
cusses the advocacy and organizing efforts around cable re-franchising in Seattle, Victor Sanchez profiles the 
access activities of community based groups in Manhattan, and I have attempted to suggest some approaches 
to linking access training to social activism. 

There are several ideas in this activism and advocacy theme that are worth reiterating. The first is that in the 
shadow of the information infrastructure, it behooves us to mobilize a significant advocacy effort in behalf of 
the public interest. The second is that a broad vision of community media activism can be extremely helpful in 
reflecting upon our own work in public access. The third is that public access is inherently activist and simply 
cannot be a passive system. 



- Sob Devine, 
Editor-in-Chief 



cm « 7 



Independent Video in a 'public space' 



We believe that every- 
one and every commu- 
nity has a story to tell 
but we know these 
same people and com- 
munities often lack the 
tools to communicate 
their stories and the 
self-assurance that 
their concerns are 
"valid" or "worthwhile". 



From Media Artist to 



Activist 




Roger Bailey and Paul 
Connett of Video-Active 
Productions. 



By Roger Bailey 

Have you seen that black and white videotape 
where a guy sits in front of a camera with his 
shirt off and his torso looks like a face in 
which his nipples are the eyes and his navel is the 
mouth and he makes his stomach sing? Or the tape 
where he drools milk out of his mouth as he crawls 
backwards on all fours and then this dog comes 
around the corner and licks up the line of milk until 
he bumps his nose into the lens of the camera? 

During the 1970s, the artist 
William Wegman, often aided by Man 
Eay, his pet Weimaraner, made these 
and many other very short and techni- 
cally uncomplicated video pieces. 
Fifteen years ago I really admired 
Wegman's work. As an artist and 
teacher I appreciated Wegman's 
humor and dead pan presentations 
and his cool way of relating to the art 
world's formalist tendencies. 

I had access to a camcorder in 
the late '70s and I tried to make tapes inspired by 
Wegman. I laid down beneath a camera and spoke 
intimately to inanimate objects that 1 tenderly placed 
on my face. In one particularly clever segment I put a 
playing card in my mouth and mumbled, "If my sex- 
ual desire for a playing card gets in the way of my 
communicating with her, than 1 should tell her about 
my problem. I did that once before and the playing 
card appreciated it — but the husband did not." And 
[ in another attempt at Wegman I picked up lintballs 
off a rather untidy carpet Tor five minutes, all the 
while chanting, "When I can just lie on the rug pick- 
ing up lintballs, then I will no longer be too ambi- 
tious." 

Few people have seen my "art tapes" and no one 
has told me that beneath the engaging comedic sur- 
face of my work were provocative ideas. I was dissat- 
isfied. Then, in 1985, a colleague 
teaching environmental 
chemistry asked me to 
travel with him to 
Auburn, Maine, to 
record various prob- 
lems associated with a 
municipal waste incinera 
tor. As a result, my video work took 
on new meaning as I hegan to record environmental 
problems and as I began to realize the potential of 
video to give a voice to the victims of environmental 
abuses. In the past nine years I have evolved from a 
media artist to a video activist who now makes a kind 
of "tactical television," participating in the move- 
ment for environmental justice. 

In creating Video-Active Productions, Paul Connett 



and 1 have attempted to use independently produced 
and distributed videotape as a tool to provide the 
information and encouragement that will assist com- 
munities in finding the best solutions to their prob- 
lems of waste management. By promoting 
communication and interaction, we believe indepen- 
dent video can operate in a "public space" where it is 
possible to share information and skills that will 
spark dialogue and action as it helps build confi- 
dence in a threatened community. 

Since that first trip to Maine, Paul Connett and I 
have made forty tapes. Our work has focused on 
municipal waste, hazardous waste, bio-medical 
waste, recycling, composting, geothermal energy and 
issues related to dioxin. We do not promote one easy 
solution to a problem but we do intend to be a voice 
in the debate about the future of this planet. Most of 
our tapes have been made in response to a commu- 
nity's cries for help. Wc believe that everyone and 
every community has a story to tell but we know 
these same people and communities often lack the 
tools to communicate their stories and the self-assur- 
ance that their concerns are "valid" or "worthwhile". 

In 1990 Connett and I, assisted by Honolulu based 
Sheila Laffey, made a tape titled Geothermal: A Risky 
Business in Hawaii's Wao Kele Puna Rainforest. 
Various groups were opposed to plans made by pri- 
vate developers and some state politicians to tape 
geothermal energy to generate 500 megawatts of 
electrical energy on Hawaii's Big Island. Individually 
these gr oups have not been particularly successful in 
opposing this development scheme, but in part 
because we were "outsiders," Paul Connett and I 
were able to bring together, at least on video tape, 
many of those groups that were opposed to geother- 
mal development in Hawaii. We interviewed leading 
scientists, economists, physicians, energy experts, 
engineers, activists, native Hawaiians, musician lerry 
Garcia and Pulitzer prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin 
and created a 57 minute tape 
that has played a sig- 
nificant part in 
the debate 
over geother- 
mal energy. 
Our tape exam- 
ines the dangers to 
human health, the threats to 
the rainforest, the concerns of the native Hawaiians, 
the viabilfty of the project, the problems of transmit- 
ting power overland and undersea from the Big 
Island to Honolulu, the economics of the project, and 
the alternative methods of saving 500 megawatts of 
electrical energy through efficiency and conservation 
measures. This tape has been shown more than a 
hundred times on Hawaii Public Television. 




8 • CMR 



Our agenda is driven by content and the desire to 
share knowledge and ideas to help people become an 
active part of the political process. Because we are 
concerned about how a community thinks about 
itself and its future, we want to give residents the 
opportunity to express their voices directly, and to 
reach broader politics. More and more people are 
becoming aware of the fact that low-income, non- 
English speaking communities and people of color 
are disproportionately exposed to environmentally 
hazardous conditions. 

Hazardous Waste Incineration: A Scandal in North 
Carolina focuses on several men who worked at a 
hazardous waste incinerator and suffered permanent 
damage because the company they worked for did 
not provide them with the proper knowledge, train- 
ing, safety, equipment and procedures that would 
have protected them. These workers, as well as local 
residents, were eager to tell their stories to us because 
they wanted to save others from a similar fate. 

As an academic and an activist, I believe it is vitally 
important that all citizens are not only able to read 
and write but that they have the opportunity to 
develop a visual literacy, that will enable them to 
watch media critically and produce media effectively. 
1 would like to see all communities have the opportu- 
nity to articulate their ideas with the most effective 
communication tools of our time. 

For many years we were told by people from the 
Dupont Chemical Co. that we could anticipate 
"Better Living Through Chemistry." Certainly in 
terms of organo-chlorines, that promise was a lie. As 
a result of production of nearly forty million tons of 
chlorinated compounds worldwide each year, many 
very toxic and persistent by-products such as dioxins 
and furons are building up in the environment and in 
human tissues. Many leading scientists and environ- 
mental groups such as Greenpeace now advocate a 
phase-out of chlorine production. 

In response to the problems surrounding dioxin, in 
September of 1991 over 200 citizens, activists, scien- 
tists, Vietnam veterans and government officiais all 
determined to find the truth related to the dioxin 
issue, met for The First Citizens' Conference on 
Dioxin, 

Paul Connett and I worked for a year to transform 
two days of recorded presentations from the Dioxin 
Conference into a series of ten video tapes. We added 
video images and superimposed computer generated 
graphics to help clarify many points with the intent 
of presenting coherent and lively documents without 
distorting the presentations. Our intent was to create 
a series of tapes that would be useful to all citizens 
who are battling any process or facility that is a 
source of dioxin, e.g. all types of incineration. We 
wanted to move dioxin from the chemistry textbook 
into its broader political and social context, and to 
promote the urgent need to prevent the formation of 
dioxin rather than trying to control it once it had 
been produced. Additionally, we wanted to reveal 
that when a toxic substance like dioxin impinges on 



powerful political and economic interests, science 
and truth are early victims. 

Over 5,000 VHS copies of our tapes have been dis- 
tributed, primarily around the U.S. and Canada, but 
they have been sent to Europe, the former U.S.S.R., 

Australia and elsewhere as well. 

Waste Management as if the 
Future Mattered is the single most 
popular tape we have produced. 
Its success is due primarily to 
Connett's ability to put technical 
information into plain English and 
to keep an audience's attention 
with measured doses of humor 
and animated tirades against igno- 
rance, abuse and greed. 

Because neither Paul nor 1 are 
willing to focus on grant-writing or 
fund-raising, we rely on sales of 
videotapes Cat $25 each, including 
shipping) to pay production, 
duplication and distribution costs 
of nearly all of our tapes. It is not 
our intention to make a profit but 
to break even. 

Organizations such as Green- 
peace and Citizens' Clearinghouse 
for Hazardous Waste refer people 
to us to provide video tapes but it 
is primarily through newsletters 
from grassroots groups, and word 
of mouth that people hear about 
us. There are a number of resource 
guides available that list our tapes 
and a school or library will most 
likely contact us through that 
source. Grassroots organizations 
and citizen activists continue to be 
the primary users of our tapes and 
high school and college classes, 
public libraries, state and local 
officials and agencies, environ- 
mental organizations and even 
representatives of the waste indus- 
try have used our tapes effectively. 
Several of our tapes have helped 
persuade the national media to 
focus attention on the issues we 
have covered. 

As an illustration of how modest 
efforts can sometimes go a long 
way, I recently sent a 3/4" submas- 
ter of Waste Management as if the 
Future Mattered, converted to the 
PAL standard, to Prague in the Czech Republic, 
where a group intends to translate, duplicate and dis- 
tribute the tape. We have never denied permission or 
charged anyone to make copies of our work. I was a 
bit shocked but also pleased when someone once 
called to say they had made over 300 copies of one of 

continued next page 



Still frames from a 
series of videotapes on 
Waste Management as if 
the Future Mattered. 



- 



Agent Orange Cover- Up 




Uses and Abuses of 
Health Risk Assessment 



CMR • 9 



continued from previous page 



our tapes and they were giving copies away. 
Efforts such as these have often led to the defeat 
of incinerator proposals. 

Over the past several years I have had over 60 
requests for permission to air our tapes on cable 
access television. Considering that there are 
approximately 2,000 communities around the 
U.S. with some form of public access television, 
there are certainly opportunities to reach more 
audiences than we have. Community access 
television offers an audience of potential new 
activists, fn addition to providing valuable con- 
tent we hope our projects serve as a model for 
other groups to produce meaningful media. 

Someone once said, "You can use television or 
you can be used by it." Although the technical 
quality of our tapes may be less than what some 
have come to expect from their experiences with 
commercial television, we are not competing 
with major networks. Our primary mission is to 
serve our audience. 1 have permitted and 
encouraged several video activists to re-edit our 
tapes tn relate more specifically to the needs of a 
local community. 

Ail of this means that our tapes are part of a 
process — they are not products marked with the 
autonomy of private expression or artistic merit. 
But in our efforts to combat apathy, passivity 
and alienation we have been known to employ 
certain strategies including humor, exaggera- 
tion, surprise and the outrageous to underscore 
and communicate important ideas. 

People who feel their health and their lives are 
threatened don't need and don't want slick pro- 
duction values and elaborate editing techniques 
and are not concerned with questions related to 
aesthetic beauty or innovation. What citizens 
want are facts and testimonies and honest 
images that can be in their hands quickly. For 
me, the question of excellence has shifted from 
the formal qualities of the tape to my ability to 
get useful information to people when they need 
it most. 

And what about William Wegman and his 
Weimaraner? I've read that Man Ray died, and 
there is not a Fay Ray, but I have not heard much 
recently about Wegman. If he is still making 
videos and his stomach stifl looks like a face, I 
hope the words coming out of his navel are pro- 
moting activist use of video. There's a lot of work 
to be done. 

Roger Bailey teaches at St. Lawrence University 
and is co-founder of Video-Active Productions. If 
you would like a brochure which describes the 
Video-Active Production series of videotapes on 
Waste Management and on Dloxin, write to 
Roger Bailey, Video Active Productions, Rt. 2, Box 
322, Canton, New York 13617, Phone 315/386- 
8797. 



Youth-Produced and Youth-Identified Video » 

Black Planet Productions 

P.O. Box 435, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10003-0435, 212/886-3701 

> "The Media Wilder Pseudo- Graduates" -A personal and off-beat look at college 
graduation ceremonies through the eyes of a young African-American male, pro- 
duced by the Not Channel Zero collective. 

> "The Sunima '91 Show" - A documentary by Not Channel Zero on tire St. John's 
Rape trial, Dr. Jeffries/City College controversy, the 'Ms. Saigon protest and the 
Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings. 

Educational Video Center 

60 E 13th St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003, 212/254-2848 

> "Huddlin in the Chill: Homeless Youth" - Homeless teens speak openly about 
the families they left, the difficulties of independence and their strategies for sur- 
vival. 

> "Unequal Education: Failing Our Children" - Explores inconsistencies in 
resources and opportunities in the educational system through the eyes of four 
recent high school graduates. 

> "Two Babies: A critical Analysis of Television in the '90s" - College age youth 
examine the relationships young people have to TV growing up and its effects on 
them. 

> "Trash They Neighbor" - A humorous hip-hop video by YO-TV (Youth 
Organizers Television) in which teenagers look at recycling and garbage reduction. 

Foundation for Media Education 

26 Center St., Northampton, MA 01060, 413/586-4170 

> "Dreamworlds: Desire/Sex/ Power in Rock Video" -A documentary by Sut Jhally 
on sexism in rock video on MTV. 

Media Watch 

P.O. Box 618, Santa Cruz, CA 95061 

> "Warning: The Media maybe Hazardous to your Health" - A media literacy 
video that addresses sexism and racism in movies, cartoons and news media. 

Paper Tiger TV 

339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012, 212/420-8196 

> "Tom Between Colors" - Black and Latino high school students look at racial 
images in the media. 

Rise and Shine Productions 

300 West 43rd Street, 4th Floor. New York, NY 10036, 212/265-2509 

> "Asian Stereotypes" - Youth produced video on stereotypes of Asian Americans 

> "Beauty Beyond the Media's Eyes" - How young women of color feel about how 
women are portrayed in the media. 

> "Blind Alley" - Dealing with homophobic youth facing the reality of gay-bashing 
>■ "Trials and Traditions" - Produced by youth team led by Native American high 
school students, dealing with problems and perspectives of Native American urban 
youth. 

Video Project 

5332 College Avenue, Suite 101, Oakland, CA 94618, 800/4-Planet 

> "Get it Together" - Youth produced documentary on youth organizing for social 
and evironmental change, comes with guide to regional youth organizing groups. 



10 • CMR 



Empowering Non-Profits with Grassroots Community Access Involvement 



The Revolving Grant Fund of Manhattan Neighborhood Network 



By Victor Sanchez 

At the Children's Art Carnival in Harlem, a young 
woman is in the process of creating a videotape on 
the Apollo Theater. 
In Chelsea, residents and clients of community-based 
organizations are signing up for classes in video produc- 
tion. 

On the Upper West Side, teenagers are producing a 
videotape about the transition from high-school to college. 

In midtown five self-advocacy groups within United 
Cerebral Palsy will begin to receive training in camcorder 
production and editing. 

All of these individuals are being trained through the 
Revolving Grant Fund of Manhattan Neighborhood 
Network. Designed to bring video training and production 
opportunities to different neighborhoods, The Revolving 
Grant Fund provides $25,000 each to 10 community-based 
organizations to set up training workshops and access to equipment 
on a neighborhood level. The organizations receiving Revolving 
Grant Fund support engage people from teenagers to adults, speak- 
ing languages ranging from Spanish to the Chinese dialects of 
Mandarin and Cantonese, in finding out about the opportunities of 
public access and how they can be used by the community. 

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning in East Harlem, after bring- 
ing their children and grandchildren to schools in the neighborhood, 
15-20 women climb five flights of stairs in a former parochial school 
on east 106th street to take two hours of instruction in video produc- 
tion at The El Barrio Popular Education Program. 

Recently the group was studying commercials from Spanish lan- 
guage television as part of a lesson in how to convey effective mes- 
sages in a short period of time. In this lesson their goal was to 
understand the techniques used in the commercials and put them to 
better use in the production of messages of importance to the East 
Harlem community. 

They counted the shots that made up the commercial. Afterwards 
they spoke among themselves about the genre known as the 30-sec- 
ond spot and analyzed the impact of rapid-fire montages, narra- 




Stttdents prepare to interview striking restaurant workers. 




Workshop participants review 
and critique an interview. 



tion and music. Sometimes they watched the commercial with the 
sound off, examining the arrangement of close-ups and wide shots. 
Later they set up a camcorder and practiced camerawork and inter- 
view techniques on each other. 

Other exercises involved participating in direct address to the cam- 
era so they could become comfortable in front of the camera as well 
as behind it. 

"Classes are designed to help people become comfortable with 
both the equipment and the visual language of video," says Pedro 
Rivera, who teaches the video workshops at El Barrio Popular 
Education Project. "Right now it's a combination of a teaching effort 
as well as an organizing effort. The goal is to set up a training pro- 
gram for now as well as a core group of producers that can sustain 
the project." 

Once basic training is complete, students often become interested 
in producing stories about how they came to North America and 
profiling people and places in East Harlem. 

As these individuals take a class and pick up a camera and 
microphone for the first time, whether immigrant or native-born, 
they are learning to document the events which are their daily 
lives. From drawings on cave walls to super-8 home movies of 
parents and grandparents, to videos of births and weddings, 
these rites of passage, when preserved, are for the most part 
shared only by an immediate family. 

The Revolving Grant Fund seeks to include more people in 
the public access family called Manhattan Neighborhood 
Network. Part of the success of the Revolving Grant will come 
from the "family portraits" painted with electronic palates of 
communities and "passing" these portraits around among 
people sitting at home watching television, enriched by the 
IHH moment of seeing members of their family that they may not 
even met yet. 

Victor Sanchez is Director of Education and Outreach for 
the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. For further information, 
contact Manhattan Neighborhood Network, 110 East 23rd Street, 10th 
Floor, New York, New York 10010. Phone 212/260-2670. 



CMR • 11 



Activating Access 



Every Step Forward Moves the Horizon One Step Further 



We had com- 
plaints, we had 
experience, we 
were deeply con- 
cerned about pub- 
lic involvement. 
We also found that 
we couldn't talk 
about the future of 
access on cable 
without involving 
the larger spec- 
trum of electronic 
communications! 



Access centers 
have always pro- 
vided a variety of 
under-recognized 
services under the 
auspices of televi- 
sion production. 
These include tech- 
nology training, 
media literacy, 
multi-cultural edu- 
cation and more. 




By David Keyes 

Advances in technology, forward movement in 
communication patterns and community reali- 
ties are also changing the survival environment 
for public access. We face an era of tight finances and 
increasing focus on technological promise [or decoy!). 
The corporate cowboys are gathering up a herd and rid- 
ing down the info highway. How do we get on? Will we 
be road kill? Access activists in the Seattle, Washington 
area are finding that promoting public participation 
and a public access infrastructure requires a reclaiming 
of the access mission and the development of an advo- 
cacy approach that recognizes technological growth, ft 
is an exciting and frightening time to be promoting 
community communications. In this article, I will pre- 
sent some of our dilemmas and discov 
eries in the refranchising process as 
well as discuss some of the essential 
elements of access advocacy. Of 
course, no campaign is complete 
without a couple mottoes. Tiy these 
on for size: "Don't just wade in the 
quagmire, dive in!" or "Access 
advocacy: stumble with intention 

Access advocacy is a process of creating impact. 
Access advocacy in cable begins long before refran- 
chising and lasts long afterwards. It is important to 
know the provisions of the franchise agreement, to 
encourage written documentation of any problems 
and non-compliance and perhaps most important, to 
develop a community of people who watch, produce, 
or otherwise participate in access. In Seattle access has 
suffered from a lack of active outreach, promotion and 
support, leaving a rather narrow range of program- 
ming and a lack of integration into the community 
infrastructure. While there is a strong body of commu- 
nity active people and organizations, there has been 
little in the way of an organized access community 
since franchising fourteen years ago. This has made 
access advocacy here a groundbreaking process rather 
than a small step on the continuum. In our case, it has 
become more complicated with both King County and 
the City of Seattle refranchising. King County is cur- 
rently in the formal negotiation process with TCI and 
in informal negotiation with other companies. The city 
is involved in informal negotiations with Viacom and 
TCI. In many ways, we are playing catch-up to other 
access communities. However the results may be sig- 
nificant. 

Two years ago, a small group comprised of former 
cable board representatives, public access cable users 
and community activists gathered to talk about the 
upcoming cable refranchising. We had complaints, we 
had experience, we were deeply concerned about pub- 
lic involvement. We also found that we couldn't talk 
about the future of access on cable without involving 




a coalition for 



the larger spectrum of electronic communications! We 
met a lot, took an aspirin, called ourselves Electra: A 
Coalition for Electronic Democracy and began work. 

Advocacy is a transforming process of planning, 
action and reaction. It requires understanding and 
forging a relationship with the system that will enable 
reaching your goal. One must identify the enablers of 
the system. In access, the franchising authority is the 
primary enabler, though there are many other subtle 
and not so subtle inftuencers. Up the line, Congress 
and the FCC enable the local regulators. Additionally 
the courts, voters and economic interests should be 
considered as enablers. This process of influence iden- 
tification can be carried out on the micro and macro 
levels. It is vital to determine where and to whom your 
efforts are best directed. For instance, in the Seattle 
cable refranchising where the city coun- 
cil must ultimately approve the fran- 
chise, the chair of the Utiiities 
Committee is in an important role. 
However most of the renewal work is 
under the auspices of the Mayor's 
office with the Department of 
electronic democracy Administrative Services (DAS) 
conducting research and preparing recommendations. 
As advocates, it is important to conduct such an analy- 
sis of structure as completely as possible, looking for 
players and potential points of entry. 

Work to develop relationships with these enablers. 
Policy makers have to deal with many issues and do not 
have the time, or perhaps the interest, to go into detail. 
Kstablish your role as representative and expert in 
access. Don't forget to contact the advisory boards and 
talk to consultants. Consider becoming one. Stay in reg- 
ular contact and monitor progress; the political land- 
scape changes quickly. Don't make assumptions about 
information flow. We developed an initial set of recom- 
mendations for access and supporting material from 
other centers. We submitted this information to DAS. 
We also began working with the Citizens Cable Advisory 
Board, which is coordinated through DAS. We discov- 
ered at one meeting that neither the Cable Board nor 
the person in charge of refranchising for DAS had been 
notified of the information we had submitted. 

It is important to know who has the best access to the 
policy maker (e.g. people in their district who have 
worked on campaigns). When you do develop your 
demands, package it in a way that can be communicated 
quickly to policy makers and infiuencers as well as to 
your potential supporters in community organizations. 

Successful advocacy requires a well thought out 
campaign which includes a clear mission and struc- 
ture, goals and an action plan. Aspects of this include 
research, public education, watch-dogging, fundrais- 
ing, and the ability to respond to change. 
On a more macro-electronic plane, access advocates 



12 • CMR 




Access advocacy is 
tough. It is our role to 
educate and animate a 
vision. It is our work to 

create a democracy 
without technical walls. 



face the challenge of determining where best to 
place our efforts and limited energy. There are 
many arenas of electronic communications that 
require protection or the development of public 
space. These range from state and federal regu- 
lation of telephone company entry into video, 
to the FCC auction of airwaves, to the cost of 
internet access and development of a commu- 
nity computer network. In the Puget Sound 
area, Microsoft and TCI have announced their 
intent to begin trials of their interactive soft- 
ware. Will local programming be available on 
demand? Will it be prominently displayed on 
the menu? Access advocates must plan for the 
increased range of electronic communications 
and the changing nature of how consumers 
interact with information. 

The 1992 Cable Act allows cable 
operators to offer money for 
access equipment, while leaving 
access advocates with the task of 
securing ongoing operations 
funding from the franchise fees 
and other sources. While this is a 
tough task, the diversification of 
funding may be consistent with 
the expanding envelope of 
access. Access centers have 
always provided a variety of 
under-recognized services under 
the auspices of television produc- 
tion. These include technology training, media 
literacy, multi-cultural education and more. 
Access centers arc reaching deeper into some of 
these areas. Tualatin Valley Community Access, 
for instance, is developing a media literacy cur- 
riculum. Access expansion and valuable allies 
can also be found in a parallel forum, the com- 
puter-based access movement. There are 
groups such as Seattle Community Network 
that are advocating for public exchange and 
information networks iSee CTR Cyberspace 
issue, Vol.16, No. 61. Others such as the 
CLAMDYP Alliance in Seattle have allied to 
teach computer skills to youth. As with the rich 
diversity of cultures, technology diversity will 
also require a mediation of values. 

It is easy to suffer from techno-wow syn- 
drome. Our overall mission is to foster a public 
electronic trust and encourage community self- 
determination. To this end, tire focus in refran- 
chising right now is securing an ongoing 
infrastructure to support technology education, 
community dialogue, information availability 
and media literacy. Electra has focused on pub- 
lic participation in refranchising, improved 
facilities, system interactivity and community- 
based management of access facilities and poli- 
cies which are currently under cable company 
control. 



As you work to define your goals, involve oth- 
ers. Grab your binoculars, climb a tree and 
search out the public access constituency. 
Public access users, media advocates, artists 
and free speech law buffs are clear choices. We 
began developing a new access plan with a 
series of meetings at 911 Media Arts Center. 
Develop an action plan for outreach and make 
the contacts necessary to become a player in 
the political planning process. Tap into existing 
networks to educate and engage. The base con- 
stituency for public access is still the largest 
portion of our communities that don't get 
heard. Access provides an in-kind value to non- 
profit social service agencies, cultural groups, 
etc. Our task as advocates is to inform and 
motivate folks to take action. Develop your own 
media as well as encourage visibil- 
ity through others' newsletters, 
cable programs and education 
forums. Creating a presentation 
and developing a speakers' bureau 
is a great tool for gelling the word 
out. Use the media to help raise the 
issues; this often involves educating 
the reporters. The need to dissemi- 
nate information on the status of 
refranchising (or any advocacy work) 
cannot be understated. Be clear 
about any action you want from peo- 
ple. Provide clear information about 
where to direct the action. For example, we put 
out a resolution for groups to sign and maii to 
the cable office. 

We have also used public forums to bring par- 
ticipation to the policy makers. For instance, we 
gathered together key city, county and state leg- 
islators and staff for a discussion on public 
interest in regulating new technologies. We co- 
sponsored this event with the 911 Media Arts 
Center and Computer Professionals for Social 
Responsibility. We have also called for public 
hearings and helped publicize them. Com- 
munity needs assessment is now a required ele- 
ment of refranchising. Access advocates have 
an important role to play in overseeing commu- 
nity information gathering and discussion. 

There is more impetus on the part of policy- 
makers to create advanced technical systems 
for government and even education use. 
Certainly the profit makers have their vision. 
Access advocacy is tough. It is our role to edu- 
cate and animate a vision. It is our work to cre- 
ate a democracy without technical walls. 

Currently in Seattle, David Keyes pays the rent 
working for a company producing educational 
programs for the Seattle Public Schools and 
moonlights as the chairman of Electra, a coali- 
tion for Electronic Democracy. David is a former 
Midwest regional chair for the former NFLCP. 



An Activist Bookshelf 

Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall, and 
Steve Max, Organizing for Social 
Change: A Manual for Activists in 
the 1990s. Washington: Seven 
Locks Press, 1991. 

Tony Dowmunt, Channels of 
Resistance: Global Television and 
Local Empowerment. London: 
British Rim Institute, 1993. 

John Gaventa, Power and 
Powerlessness: Quiescence and 
Rebellion In the Appalachian 
Valley. Chicago: University of 
Illinois Press, 19S0 

Mark O'Brien and Craig Little, 
eds., Reimaging America: The Arts 
of Social Change, Philadelphia: 
New Society Publishers, 1990. 

Popsf Tiger, Roar! Paper Tiger 
Guide to Media Activism, New 
York: Paper Tiger Television, 
1992. 

Peter Park, Mary Brydon-Milier, 
Budd Halt, and Ted Jackson, 
Voices of Change: Participatory 
Research in the United States and 
Canada. Westport, Connecticut: 
Bergin and Garvey, 1993, 

Charlotte Ryan, Prime Time 
Activism: Media Strategies for 
Grassroots Organizing. Boston: 
South End Press, 1991. 

Nancy Thede, and Alain Ambrosi, 
editors, Video: The Changing 
World. Montreal: Black Rose 
Books, 1992 

Peter Steven, Brink of Reality: 
New Canadian Documentary Film 
and Video. Toronto: Between the 
Lines, 1993. 

Alvin Zander, Effective Social 
Action by Community Groups. San 
Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1990. 




CMR 



'Shooting' Sacred Cows in the Himalayas 



Ratna Cable TV is magic for the viewers, many of whom have never seen 
a television before, in an area where the town crier can still be heard. 



By Peter Lowe 

Every Saturday afternoon the Himalayan hill people of Tansen 
turn their backs on some of the world's most spectacular 
mountain scenery to watch a television program shot in their 
neighbour's spare bedroom, 

Somehow the Ratna Cable TV group has pumped out two hours of 
home-made community television every week in a remote rural area 
of Nepal for the last year with a battered Hitachi VKC camera, two 
home video recorders, a huge Philips spotlight and a rusty video light. 

The portable video recorder broke down ages ago. That's when the 
production team decided to start broadcasting their local news and 
current affairs program, from the spare bedroom in the basement. 

The acoustics are terrible, and the green local news reader some- 
times sounds like he's speaking through a tin can on a string instead 
of a microphone, but its magic for the viewers, many of whom have 
never seen a television before, in an area where the town crier can 
still be heard. 

This station is the best community television station in the 
Himalayan kingdom of Nepal. In fact, it is the only television station 
in the kingdom, apart from the state-owned Nepal Television (NTV), 
which doesn't reach Tansen anyway. 

Ratna Cable TV started broadcasting just over a year ago when a 
group of friends who'd been recording pop music adaptation of tradi- 
tional Nepalese folk songs for years decided to try something differ- 
ent. How this group got started, inspired by Beatles records brought 
home to the Himalayan Hills from Britain by Gurkha soldiers, is 
another story! 

Radio technician Buddha Ratna Shakya and his son Mahesh figured 
out how to build an adaptor so they could broadcast direct from the 
VCR under their television in the living room. They plugged the adap- 
tor into the local cable network they'd already set up so their neigh- 
bors could receive Star Television from Hong Kong via the satellite 
dish on the Shakya's roof. 

Then local high school principal Madan Deurale pro- 
duced the first of the many programs the Ratna 
Cable TV group has put to air for 62 consecu- 
tive weeks. The first program was about one 
of Tansen's most important events: the local 
Sacred Cow festival. 

"We took the camera and VCR deck to our 
shop in the market and filmed the procession from a 
stool, holding the camera over the heads of the crowd. We 
didn't have a tripod so I got sore arms, and camera shake was a prob- 
lem, but there was a great response from the viewers because nobody 
had ever made such a program hefore," Mahesh said. 

Since then the group has also made programs about education, 
environmental problems, tourism, cultural performances, women, 
academics, and local dignitaries. Everything except politics. "We stay 
out of politics," Producer Deurale insisted. "If we give a program 
about one political party then we will be pressured to give a program 
about all the other political parties and we don't have time to make 
programs about anything else." 

Deurale estimates 1,000 to 1,500 viewers watch Ratna Cable TV's 

14 • CMR 



weekly program on about 150 television sets, an average of about 10 
viewers per box. "Usually the whole family and all their neighbours 
watch the program, and in some houses up to thirty people are 
watching," he said. 

He doesn't count the growing number of "illegal" viewers who 
tune in by tapping the cable lines, disturbing the picture on many 
legal viewers sets. But such minor problems are easy to solve com- 
pared to the problems of trying to deal with one of the world's most 
backward government bureaucracies. 

"To broadcast our programs we should have a license from the 
government, but there are no rules and regulations about how to 
obtain such a licence, and it's difficult to find out who to talk to 
about this," Deurale said. 

Television's ability to engage a widespread and illiterate audience 
makes it an ideal medium for creating awareness among people in 
remote areas about health, education, sanitation, and other aspects 
of rural development. This is particularly due in the Palpa district of 
Nepal where Tansen is located; the spectacular mountainous terrain 
restricts the possibilities for other forms of development communi- 
cation such as village visits and local newspaper distribution. 

Realizing this, the Ratna Cable TV group have formed a commu- 
nity non-profit organization, Communication for Development 
Palpa (CDP), to further their aim of facilitating local development 
via the electronic media. CDP has five objectives. 

> Make people aware of local and national development pro- 
grams and help to increase their participation in those pro- 
grams. 

> Create mass awareness in the field of environmental conserva- 
tion, education, health and skill- development. 

>• To create awareness among people to strengthen democracy. 
>• Help to preserve and improve national cultural heritage, 
>• To prepare audio and visual programs for the development 
of women and children. 

CDP has already produced 
special video cassettes on 
culture, sanitation and 
cleanliness. The organi- 
zation also broadcast a 
pilot medium-wave local 
radio program for four days dur- 
ing a District Industrial Exhibition in 
Tansen. But the group's ability to produce quality community tele- 
vision is restricted by lack of equipment. 

How would you make an interesting program about how an adult 
literacy class has improved the lives of women in a Himalayan vil- 
lage, without a portable camera? 

Every Thursday night Madan Deurale and Mahesh Deurale meet 
to discuss what the Saturday program should be about. Madan said: 
"I am the production department. He is the technical department. 
We sit in the living room and decide what we will do. " 
This week there is a competition for cultural groups from local 

continued on page IB 




Training for Social Activism 



By Bob Devine 

The echoes of the commercial system of broad- 
cast television are abundant in public access 
training, in our literature, and in our profes- 
sional conferences and meetings. In attempting to 
build an alternative community communications 
system we often pass along the codes and conven- 
tions of the dominant media without much critical 
scrutiny. Access training, John Higgins has noted, is 
sometimes a "nightmare" of broadcast cloning 
(Higgins, 1991a). Higgins joins a number of other 
media theoreticians in pointing out that the forms, 
structures and codes of mainstream media are not 
ideologically neutral, that the selection, ordering and I 
representation of images and ideas involve a value- 
laden process of structuring the reality of the viewer. 

A number of access centers are beginning to inte- 
grate media literacy into training programs. In a 
recent issue of CMR, Fred Johnson (Johnson, 1994) 
calls for "infusing media literacy principles through- 
out the production we undertake and the training 
programs we design," while jessikah maria ross, Greg 
Boozell, Roberto Arevalo and others provide some 
insight into how such a fundamental shift in the ori- 
entation of access training is being accomplished. I 
would like to suggest that the focus and structure of 
access training can extend and enhance these efforts 
to develop critical viewing skills, and that by using a 
critical social agenda as organizing principle of train- 
ing, the training experience can encourage social 
activism and agency. 

Question #1: What are we training for? 
What outcomes do we desire? 

At a very basic level, access training seeks to impart 
sufficient technical skill in the use of media tools to 
allow the trainees to become effective communica- 
tors. Given the goal of producing programming, the 
training focuses on those components, characteris- 
tics, connections and systems that allow the trainee 
to become operational, as well as the sort of care and 
handling that will preserve the equipment being 
used. A corollary focus of much training is on bring- 
ing trainees to a level of technical quality that will be 
competitive in the multi-channel environment of 
cable. Technical expertise has been invoked on many 
occasions to suggest that audiences be protected 
from the technical blunders of novice speakers by 
professionals who speak for those seeking voice. It is 
no wonder that building technical skill is a central 
focus of most training. 

Several difficulties quickly become obvious to most 
access trainers, The first is that the technology used 
by public access operations is not often on a par with 
the levels of technical quality and sophistication that 
are in evidence across the cable menu. When techni- 
cal competence is used as a standard for entry into 



the arena of public discourse, the effect is to disen- 
franchise those speakers with limited access to 
resources and training. Access organizations have as 
part of their mission the lowering of the thresholds of 
expertise necessary to enter the marketplace of ideas. 
Continuing improvement in the effectiveness of 
speech is a goal of most training and support pro- 
grams, but hopefully the training effort extends 
beyond technical competence of the message to 
include considerations of the engagement of the par- 
ticipation of the community, and interaction around I 
the messages. 

The second is that the skill levels of trainees do not 
often reach the level of technical mastery, quality and 
consistency that is currency in the commercial arena. 
Some achieve success, but many trainees remain 
marginal in terms of technical ability. And so we 
aspire to impart a level of technical proficiency and 
quality that are not always possible given the limita- 
tions of time and resources and the high demand for 
access experienced by many access centers, 
Operating the apparatus is at the center of our train- 
ing efforts, even though this dimension is only a part 
of the production process; trainees also need a clear 
theoretical understanding of content, a knowledge of 
audience, a knowledge of how the medium works, 
how it is used, and some specific ideas of social out- 
comes that their effort might have (Tomaselli, 1932] . 

A second set of goals for access training has to do 
with production value. The argument is that if pro- 
gramming is not at a level of production value and 
slickness, audiences will not watch it, The difficulties 
in taking the standard codes and conventions too 
seriously, of course, are that media aesthetics often 
involve a sort of self-defined professionalism that 
reflects (a) the economic organization of the industry 
and the efficiencies of mass production and distribu- 
tion, (b) the cultural position of media producers 
themselves, and (c) the techniques, procedures, con- 
ventions and codes of representation which support 
(a) and (b). 

The origins and orientation of such representa- 
tional practices are not always apparent, but the con- 
ventions themselves are sufficiently widespread to be 
taken for granted as universal and immutable. On 
occasion we may notice that a practice that was, in 
the past, considered a failing will find its way into the 
representational language of commercial produc- 
tion; the jump-cut, and violations of the 180° axis of 
interest, for example, were absorbed into "profes- 
sional" representational practice some time after the 
widespread distribution of French New Wave films in 
the United States, while the use of hand-held camera 
and high-grain images has crept into the lexicon of 
commercial representation as a marker for authen- 
ticity 1 . 

continued next page 




"A revolutionary lead- 
ership must accordingly 
practice co-intentional 
education. Teachers 
and students {leader- 
ship and people), co- 
intent on reality are 
both Subjects, not only 
in the task of unveiling 
that reality, and thereby 
coming to know it criti- 
cally, but in the task of 
re-creating that knowl- 
edge. As they attain 
this knowledge of real- 
ity through common 
reflection and action, 
they discover them- 
selves as its permanent 
re-creators. In this way, 
the presence of the 
oppressed in the strug- 
gle for their liberation 
will be what it should 
be: not pseudo-partici- 
pation, but committed 
involvement." 

- Paolo Freire, 
Pedagogy of the 
Oppressed 



CMR • 



continued from previous page 



"The relationship of 
non-participation to 
non-consciousness of 
deprived groups is 
developed by Paolo 
Freire, one of the few 
writers to have consid- 
ered the topic in depth, 
'Consciousness', he 
writes, 'is constituted 
in the dialectic of man's 
objectification and 
action upon the world.' 
In situations of highly 
unequal power relation? 
ships, which he terms 
'closed societies', the 
powerless are highly 
dependent. They are 
prevented from either 
self-determined action 
or reflection upon their 
actions. Denied this 
dialectical process, and 
denied the democratic 
experience out of which 
the 'critical conscious- 
ness' grows, they 
develop a 'culture of 
silence'. The dependent 
society is by definition 
a silent society.' The 
culture of silence may 
preclude the develop- 
ment of consciousness 
amongst the powerless, 
thus lending to the dom- 
inant order an air of 
legitimacy." 

- John Gaventa, Power 
and Pov/erlessnes: 
Quiescence and 
Rebellion in the 
Appalachian Village. 



On occasion we may find that representations orig- 
inating with other cultures utilize codes and conven- 
tions that are at variance with those with which we 
are accustomed. The manner in which people select, 
compose, order and present images and sounds is 
influenced by culture and experience (Higgins, 
1991a), and reflects a particular cultural position 2 , 
and the manner in which considerations of composi- 
tion (space, context, framing, weighting of the 
screen, proximity etc.), sequence (juxtaposition, 
duration, pause, rhythm, continuity, causality, etc.) 
and voice (first or third person, self-reflexitivity, nar- 
ration, etc.) are handled may not conform to the 
"professional" standards of western commercial 
media 3 . When we use such conventions as the orga- 
nizing structure of training, we are subtly encourag- 
ing our trainers to turn out broadcast clones. The 
emphasis on using production value to attract an 
audience assumes that distribution is more impor- 
tant than interaction, and that the quantity of audi- 
ence will be more significant than the quality of 
viewer engagement. 

I think that most of us secretly hope that the hours 
and energy we invest in training will produce "signif- 
icant" programming. Questions of what is significant 
and fo whom do not receive the analysis they 
deserve, and often the "significance" of program- 
ming betrays our own tastes and speaks from qui 
own particular cultural position. It is relatively easy 
to muster enthusiasm for supporting "high culture" 
and socially relevant programming which confirms 
some of the values that we have as access workers, 
but in training for diversity of expression, it is often 
difficult to assess the significance of communicative 
intents. The First Amendment protects the minority 
perspective; a training curriculum which attempts to 
shape minority perspectives (whether ethnic, cul- 
tural, political, geographic, etc.) to conform to the 
"majority" (i.e. the conventions, aesthetics, stylistics, 
genres and forms of broadcast television) is headed 
in the wrong direction. 

There are several overarching goals/outcomes of 
public access training that seem to me to provide a 
broader and more meaningful context for the devel- 
opment of technical skills, production values and sig- 
nificant programming, They have to do with the 
social relationships that are engendered by the train^ 
ing process itself, and the manner in which those 
relationships focus trainees upon connecting with 
the cultural, social, economic and political realities 
beyond the studio or access center. 

The first of these, of course, is critical literacy. If 
the trainee is encouraged to develop a critique of 
mainstream media in tandem with learning how to 
manipulate symbols, think counter-factually, and 
construct expressive or persuasive media messages, 
there is a great likelihood that they will move beyond 
technical skill to literacy— from simple understand- 
ing to critical comprehension. A second goal/out- 



come has to do with the social nature of most train- 
ing programs. The trainer can build upon the social 
interactions and processes of the training (as well as 
the follow-up production activities) to move trainees 
from collaboration to association, from association 
to collective effort, and from collective effort to forg- 
ing coalitions that extend beyond the actual access 
activity. 1 have contended elsewhere that the sort of 
evolution of social relationships engendered by 
access training is as important as the programs that 
are produced. Such relationships provide for social- 
ization (often across differences), for networking, 
and ultimately, for organizing around issues (Devine, 
1992). A third goal/outcome of access training 
involves bringing private citizens into public life. 
Access training can build upon the social nature of 
the endeavor to emphasize the social context of com- 
munication, their role in the marketplace of ideas, 
and the ways in which they can become involved and 
empowered within their communities. A fourth 
goal/ outcome derives from the first three, and it has 
to do with providing the trainee with the confidence 
to act, to enter the public discourse and to partici- 
pate in the forging of public opinion, both within the 
access setting and beyond it. In short, the access 
training can build the agency of the trainees. 

Question #2: What are the qualities of a 
meaningful training experience? 

There are a number of qualitative dimensions of 
the training experience that need particular attendon 
in the low-contact/scarce-resource environment of 
public access. The characteristics of good experien- 
tial learning — whether in the classroom, in the field, 
or in another culture — are those that distinguish 
active learning from detached observation. Some of 
the characteristics that might help to structure the 
training experience are as follows: 

> That it require risk. The training should involve 
exercises thai put people into encounter with other 
cultures, sub-cultures, peoples, situations or envi- 
ronments which are significantly different from their 
own. The outcomes of exercises may not be pre- 
dictable, and the trainee may be revealed as a novice, 
or less than "in control". 

)#That it requires investment. Trainees should 
have a sense of personal commitment, attachment, 
involvement or ownership in the training experience, 
and should share some sense of caring about the out- 
comes. The implication is, of course, that the training 
is relevant to the experience, the life and the world 
view of the trainee. 

> That it challenge assumptions. The training 
experience should cause the trainee to examine cur- 
rent understandings and categories of knowledge, 
should challenge current frames of reference, and 
should cause some reflection on how the trainee 
comes to know something. 

>• That it engenders interaction. Access training is 
[ active, by definition, and most often involves social 
I relationships. A quality training experience should 



16 • CMR 



focus the attention of trainees on the manner in 
which the training group negotiates a means of 
exchange, common language, roles and codes, and 
the manner in which often diverse individuals 
forge common understandings and common 
goals. The training relationship should position 
the trainee as a "sendceiver" — someone who 
interacts as both a sender and a receiver of infor- 
mation. 

> That it involves an element of reflection. The 

power of experiential learning is in the interaction 
of experience and subsequent reflection on that 
experience. The training experience should pro- 
vide trainees with the space and support to make 
personal meaning. It goes without saving that the 
extension of media literacy understandings into 
the training experience is involved in connecting 
theory with practice. 

> That it leads to agency. Training should be 
focused on enabling the trainee to act in spite of 
constraints, to initiate their own work, to work 
autonomously and with confidence and self-suffi- 
ciency, and to have concrete outcomes in their 
everyday world. Training should bring participants 
to voice in speaking their history and their culture 
and give them confidence in articulating their 
grievances and entering into the public discourse 
of the community. 

Question #3: How can we do that? 

Those working on media literacy are developing 
a wonderful array of materials, exercises and 
approaches that can be incorporated into access 
training (see for example the article by jessikah 
maria ross in CMR Vol. 17, No. L). I would like to 
suggest a handful of problem-solving exercises 
that can be used as a hands-on part of the training 
process (a) to focus attention on the social dimen- 
sions of communication, (b) to attach production 
to the social, economic and political realities of 
those being trained, (c) to insert the trainees into 
the arena of public and civic participation, (d) to 
encourage collaboration and coalition-building, 
and (e) to encourage an activist approach to the 
use of the access opportunity. 

> Self Portrait. Have trainees construct a 5-shot 
self portrait to share with fellow trainees. Screen 
and discuss the processes of representation (how 1 
would represent myself as opposed to how others 
might [mis] represent me), of interpretation (how 
others make meaning out of the five shots I have 
chosen to share), and objectification (what it feels 
like to have others view, discuss and interpret you 
as an "object"). Build the discussion toward how 
the understandings that come out of this "sharing" 
process might inform various access projects that 
the trainees undertake. 

)#OraI History. Have trainees do an oral history 
interview dealing with the history of their neigh- 
borhood. Screen and discuss the process of inter- 
viewing, the social and cultural geography of 



everyday experience, the richness of storytelling 
and personal recollection, and the differences in | 
the way a resident might treat this history versus 
the manner in which mainstream media might try 
to tell the same story. Other variations having to do 
with social heritage might include constructing a 
letter to the next generation, or demonstrating a 
distinct culturai practice. 

• Analysis of a Community Issue. Have the 
training group select a community issue or diffi- 
culty with which people have some familiarity 
(using the front page of the newspaper might be a 
good starting point). Do a group pre-production 
planning session for a program on this issue. 
Identify as many aspects of the issue as possible, 
identify who the key voices are, who could address 
the issue and the sorts of questions that might be 

- asked of them, analyze what sorts of visual images 
or visual metaphors might be used in explaining or 
presenting the issue. If possible have various 
members of the training group do practice shoots 
on some of the key voices or images that have been 
discussed in the planning. A variation that also 
gets at surveillance of the environment and analy- 
sis of issues might involve sending one training 
group to interview municipal officials about an 
issue while sending another training group to doc- 
ument the realities of the issue; a comparison of 
the two efforts will generate a similar kind of criti- 
cal issue discussion. 

• Analysis of an Interaction. Select an observ- 
able kind of interaction that is accessible to the 
training group (i.e. a restaurant worker or clerk 
waiting on customers, a librarian checking out 
books, a grocery story worker ringing up pur- 
chases, a teacher conducting a class, etc.). Discuss 
the dynamics of the interaction and various ways 
that it might be documented. Have the training 
group try one of the approaches. Screen the results 
and discuss how another approach might have 
been used to change or reverse the "balance of 
power" in the interaction. 

• Addressing Social Issues: Intolerance, Send 
teams of trainees out on the street for hands-on 
experience with interviewing. The interview will be 
on the subject of intolerance. Interviewers will ask 
people: (a) When, where, how they have experi- 
enced intolerance; and (b) What they themselves 
are intolerant of. Screen and discuss how one 
negotiates a common base for bridging difference, 
how one differentiates the experience of intoler- 
ance from being intolerant, and how people come 
to tolerate difference. 

• Addressing Social Issues: Power. Send teams 
of trainees on an interview exercise to a hotel or 
restaurant. The interview will be on the subject of 
power. Interviewers will ask a guest and an 
employee how they experience and exercise 
power. Screen and discuss the differences between 
the responses of guests and those of employees 

continued next page 



"Most people do not accu- 
mulate a body of experi- 
ence. Most people go 
through life undergoing a 
series of happenings, which 
pass through their systems 
undigested. Happenings 
become experiences when 
they are digested, when 
they are reflected on, 
related to general patterns 
and synthesized." 

- Saul Alinski, 
Rules for Radicals 

"Our courses do not 
assume technology as an 
autonomous and neutral 
product. It is inextricably 
bound with productive 
forces and itself suggests 
the creation and perpetua- 
tion of various techniques 
and conventions. . .and the 
reproduction through genre, 
style, convention and aes- 
thetics of the status quo." 
- Keyan Tomaselli, 'The 
Teaching of Film and 
Television Production in a 
Third World Context: The 
Case of South Africa" 

"Their experience with 
video, conceiving, shooting, 
editing and presenting their 
own programs, made the 
citizens particularly aware 
of the myth of objectivity in 
mass media reporting, and 
sensitive to conscious and 
unconscious manipulation. 
They became a less gullible 
public." 

- Dorothy Todd Henaut, 
"Video Stories from the 
Dawn of Time" 



CMR • 17 



continued from previous page 



and the implications for understanding the 
power relationships that take place in that 
kind of a setting. Discuss ways in which 
power is exercised (coercive, consensual, 
structural, subtextual, etc.), what forms of 
power people have, and who has access to 
the systems of power. Discuss ways in which 
trainees might use access opportunities to 
empower others. 

* Addressing Social Issues: Difference. 
Send teams of trainees on an interview exer- 
cise to talk with people that they might never 
think to talk to (from a different cultural ori- 
entation, a senior citizen, a 5th grader, some- 
one from a different part of town, etc.). As 
part of the exercise, instruct trainees to talk 
with the person being interviewed for a suffi- 
cient time before the cameras roll to identify 
a common area of interest, a common experi- 
ence, or a common point of reference. The 
interview will be on that shared interest. 
Screen and discuss the process by which the 
interviewees came to find "common ground", 
the difficulties in doing so, and those ele- 
ments of the interaction that aided or hin- 
dered this effort. 

There are, of course, hundreds of variations 
on these themes and strategies. The point is 
that access training be redirected in such a 
way that it involves social as well as technical 
learning, that it is not just for autonomy of 
expression, but relates somehow to the pub- 
lic good, that it is tied back to and integrated 
with the community that it serves, and that 
the training sets up a "culture of access" that 
values voice, the practice of culture, collec- 
tivized action, agency and social outcomes. 

Bob Devine is Professor of Communication 
and Acting Dean of the Faculty at Antioch 
College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He has been 
active in public, access for twenty five years. 
For further information, Bob can be reached 
at 513/767-6332. 

Sources 

Bob Devine (1992). Video, Access and Agency, Paper 
presented at the 1992 National Federation of Local 
Cable Programmers Conference, St. Paul, 
Minnesota. 

Nicholas (1990). Capitalism and Communi cation: 
Global Culture and the Economics of Information. 
London: Sage Publications. 

John Higgins (1991a). "Night of the Broadcast 
Clones: The Politics of Video Training," Community 
Television Review, Volume 14, No. 3. 

John Higgins (1991b). "Video Pedagogy as Political 
Activity," Journal of Film and Video, 43:3. 



Education," Community Media Review, Volume 17, 
No, 1. 

Huby, J„ (1991). "Speaking For, Speaking About, 
Speaking With, or Speaking Alongside: An 
Anthropological and Documentary Dilemma," 
Visual Anthropology Review, 7:2. 

Keyan G. Tomaselli (1982). "The Teaching of Film 
and Television Production in a Third World 
Context: The Case of South Africa," Journal of the 
University Film and Video Association, Volume 
XXTV, No. 4. 

Sol Worth and John Adair (1972). Through Navaho 
Eyes: An Exploration in PUm Com-munication and 
Anthropology. Bloomington: Indiana University 
Press. 

Herbert Zettl (1990) Sight, Sound and Motion: 
Applied Media Aesthetics. Belmont, California: 
Wadsworth, (2nd Edition) . 

Notes 

1 It is interesting to note that the characteristics of 
"amateur" production that Garnham (1990) objects 
to in his discussion of video are the very character- 
istics that are used to locate jeans, motor scooters, 
beer and music in an oppositional position in 
mainstream American advertising. 

-Ruby (1991) wrestles with the authenticity of the 
sort of collaboration evidenced in works such as 
the Navajo films of Worth and Adair, the ethno- 
graphic films of Jean Rouch, and the various efforts 
of Canada's Challenge for Change program, and 
rejects shared authority as a model because the 
mechanics of collaboration and die technical, intel- 
lectual and cultural parity have not been suffi- 
ciently documented. Nevertheless, as Worth and 
Adair [1975), Higgins (1991b), Tomaselli (1982) and 
others note, the aesthetics of media representation 
are culturally grounded. 

3 Zettl's (1990) work on applied media aesthetics 
provides a comprehensive discussion of the con- 
ventions and codes of western media representa- 
tion. Zettl presents a psycho -physical argument for 
some dimensions of the particular aesthetic system 
he describes. He points out that the asymmetry of 
the screen, the reading of figure ground relation- 
ships, dominant and subsidiary contrast, the per- 
ception of "continuity" and the reading of balance 
within the frame can, in part, be attributed to 
mechanisms of foveal attention. The cultural 
framework for foveal attention involved in reading, 
however, seems to suggest that the "reading" of 
images is informed by cultural considerations. 



Shooting Sacred Cows 

continued from page 14 

schools, so the winning group is invited to 
perform in front of the camera on Buddha 
Ratna Shakya's roof. It's a bit squashed, and 
the musicians are barely audible in the back- 
ground, but the slot gets taped. 

Friday afternoon hostess Anjou Rayamajhi 
arrives in a sari with a red thika on her fore- 
head to record the program lead-in. News 
reader Bharat Sharma appears with his script 
printed in block letters on A4 paper 
(teleprompters are as rare in this part of the 
Himalayas as submarine sandwiches). The 
headlines: A report from the Jayeees conven- 
tion, an interview with the local chairman of 
Amnesty International, the winners of the 
cultural group competition, an interview 
with a doctor, and yesterday's weather. . .All 
the local news that's fit to broadcast. The 
program is taking shape. 

Mahesh usually starts his editing vigil after 
sunset on Friday night, carefully setting up 
each edit on the two VCR's before making a 
running edit by releasing the pause button at 
just the right moment. His concentration is 
intense, there is no second chance if the tim- 
ing is wrong, and this week he makes the last 
edit at three o'clock in the morning. The 
grunt work is over. 

The telephone is ringing off the wall 
because the program is five minutes late, the 
cable from the VCR recorder is acting up 
again. When is our program coming, the 
viewers want to know. 

Now the tape is being slipped into the 
deck, the play button is being punched, and 
Ratna Cable TV is on the air: "Namaste, we 
welcome you again..." It doesn't seem to 
matter that the color bars are just painted on 
a sheet of paper. 

Peter Lowe is information officer for the 
Danish Association for International 
Cooperation in Nepal For more information, 
contact Communication for Development 
Palpa. 8/104 Bhagwati Tole, Tansen, Palpa, 
NEPAL. Phone (075) 20178 Fax: (0977-75- 
20476) 



Notes off the Net 

As CMR went to press, word was that Sen. Inouye (HI) was about to introduce a new bill 
in Congress to set aside "reserve capacity on the National Information Infrastructure (Nil) 
for use by non-profit or public institutions [including NGOs, schools, local government, 
civic organizations, etc.] at little or not cost." The bill was expected to be "married to" 
Rolling's S1822, the Senate counterpart to the Markey/ Fields HR3636. 



Fred Johnson (1994). "The Real Work is Media 



18 • CMR 



Lessons from Vancouver Cooperative Radio 



By Dorothy Kidd 

It may seem strange that i have chosen to 
write about Canadian radio history history for 
this special issue addressed to community 
cable advocates. 1 have been working in grass- 
roots media in Canada for the last twenty-five 
years, including community cable and indepen- 
dent video production. However, since 1980, 
most of my involvement has been at Vancouver 
Cooperative Radio. 1 decided to challenge some 
of the boundaries of thinking about media 
activism by crossing over both the borders of 
nation state and of technology. 

While radio might seem passe in these heady 
days of the convergences of new media, I am 
concerned about the fact that so many of the 
debates about electronic democracy echo similar 
discussions at the time of the introduction of 
radio. The battle in the 1930s in this country for con- 
trol over the first national electronic highway fea- 
tured many of the same actors we see today — the 
corporate sectors versus a coalition of nationalist lib- 
erals, social democrats and social movements. 

By sweeping through some of this history, 1 want to 
raise questions about how far we have come in an 
alternative media vision. Specifically, I want to ask 
whether the alternative represents a real break from 
the private commercial and state-controlled public 
models of broadcasting, or whether it has in. fact 
been framed within the political and economic defi- 
nitions of the market and government institutions. 

As I began to review the work of earlier radio 
activists, I also began to question whether the alter- 
native vision is getting narrower. The radio activists 
of my parents generation fought for control of the 
whole national system; while in the late 1960s and 
1 970s, members of my own generation fought for one 
community radio station (or cable TV channel). 
Today community radio stations have been backed 
into such a corner that we have sometimes had to 
fight for one program, or in some cases one song. 

Public Broadcasting — the Beginnings 

While many of the first experiments were con- 
ducted in Canada, radio became a mass phenomenon 
when Canadians in southern cities began to tune in 
the cross-border signals from US stations, and soon 
after the same format and style of programming from 
a small number of Canadian clones. The emerging 
Canadian private stations basically repeated the US 
signals: directed to urban markets, they had little 
desire to develop independent networks that reached 
beyond the southern cities. While the federal govern- 
ment was supportive of free-enterprise, they felt 
obliged (just as they had with the extension of the 
railroad and would with most succeeding communi- 
cations technologies) to assist in the development of 
the technological infrastructure in order to extend 




Louise Ettling and Dorothy Kidd in Control Room "A "at Vancouver Cooperative Radio, 1 987. 

their sovereignty nation-wide. By the end of the 1920 
the government opened a national debate about how 
to create the infrastructure and administration for a 
national broadcasting system. 

On one side was the corporate sector, led by the 
Canadian Manufacturers Association whose mem- 
bers included some larger Canadian companies, 
many of whom were controlled by their US parents; 
several large private radio stations; four of the major 
newspapers; and the Canadian Pacific Railway 
(which was one of the first broadcasters and today is 
a partner with Rogers Cable in Unitel, the telecom- 
munications company). The coalition was primarily 
retail-oriented: they lobbied for a privately controlled 
system that would advertise their goods. 

This period of the early 1930s, was one of the 
intense organizing and massive mobilization by both 
the Communist Party and the social democratic left. 
The Canadian Radio Teague, which represented the 
other side of the radio debate, was a board alliance of 
nationalists, liberals and social democratic groups, 
including several newspapers, trade unions, farmers, 
organized women, progressive churches, artists, crit- 
ics, and educators from both English Canada and 
Quebec. Their common aim was to counter the com- 
mercial and cultural influences of the large 
monopoly controlled American networks such as 
CRS and NBC: and they promoted the idea that radio 
was a public resource that should represent the 
widest range of national public interests. Their 
strategic choice, as stated by one of their chief 
spokespeople, Graham Spry, was between "the state 
or the United States". A national, fully funded ser- 
vice, Spry felt, was the only guarantee of freedom of 
expression of all classes, an in particular those repre- 
sented by the social movements within the coalition. 

The result of this debate was a compromise: parlia- 



While radio might 
seem passe in these 
heady days of the con- 
vergences of new 
media, I am concerned 
about the fact that so 
many of the debates 
about electronic democ- 
racy echo similar dis- 
cussions at the time of 
the introduction of 
radio. 

. . .1 want to ask 
whether the alternative 
represents a real break 
from the private com- 
mercial and state-con- 
trolled public models of 
broadcasting, or 
whether it has in fact 
been f ramed within the 
political and economic 
definitions of the mar 
ket and government 
institutions. 



continued next page 



CMR- 19 




The forums demon- 
strated the radical 
potential of broadcast- 
ing media: they pro- 
moted the ideals of the 
"two-way" communica- 
tion and participatory 
democracy, involving 
thousands of people 
across the country in 
discussing and organiz- 
ing around important 
political, economic and 
social issues. 



Middle class social 
activists and cultural 
workers, their base was 
in the next generation 
of social movements: 
groups organizing 
around the environ- 
ment, peace and 
women's issues, urban 
development, aboriginal 
issues, and trade 
unions. 



continued from previous page 

ment enacted a broadcasting law establishing a 
j national system to be led by a public institution. 
Eventually called the Canadian Broadcasting 
Corporation (CBC) it would not only produce pro- 
gramming in the public interest, but would also regu- 
late both the private stations and itself. However, by 
1935, Graham Spry had admitted defeat, describing 
the CBC as an instrument for subsidy of private 
enterprise, a creature of the party in power and a 
challenge to the freedom of the air (Raboy, 1990). The 
CBC very quickly became secondary to the commer- 
cial stations — due to lack of a strong public funding 
base, it was forced to compete with the commercial 
stations for advertising revenue and negotiate with 
them to distribute CBC programming. It was also vul- 
nerable to their lobby's influence with the federal 
governing parties. 

Instead of providing the full access to minority 
voices that Spry had envisaged, the CBC service 
became highly centralized and bureaucratic. 
Programming was primarily one-way, produced by i 
professionals who interpreted the "public" interest in j 
their own upper-middle class — and primarily 
English male — voice. "Public" came to mean less 
the involvement and consultation of interested 
groups and/or listeners on public issues, and more a 
sanction for state intervention, indirectly in the 
selection and framing of issues, or directly in the pro- 
duction of propaganda such as during World War II 
(Raboy, 1990). However, the Radio League had 
wedged a wide enough opening in the public radio 
discourse that two notable experiments in participa- 
tory programming were carried out in the 1 940s and 
the 1950s. 

The Radio Forums 

One group of activists in the Canadian Radio 
League were adult educators, organized in the 
Canadian Association for Adult Education (CAAE). 
Influenced by American social critic John Dewey, 
they thought of communications as transformative: 
fully engaged citizens could use the new medium in 
an active dialogue to reflect and transform the rela- 
tions between them. The CAAE brought together 
mass organizations, voluntary associations and 
urban middle class activists in two radio forums. 

The first and most famous, Farm Radio Forum, was 
jointly conceived with the Canadian Federation of 
Agriculture to deal with economic, social and educa- 
tional problems of farm people in the 1940s and 
1950s. They broadcast to an organized audience of 
about 30,000, who met weekly in groups of 10 to 20 to 
listen to broadcasts, discuss their contents and then 
forward suggestions to the broadcasters for future 
programs. The radio program was part of the CAAE's 
wider conception of social democratic organizing in 
which the program was only the catalyst for the 
evening's discussion of political, economic and social 
issues, and planning of listener "action projects" 
(Raboy, 1990). 



Farm Radio Forum, and the later urban version, 
Citizen's Forum, were among the most popular 
Canadian public affairs programs of the period. They 
challenged the status quo through their promotion of 
left of center ideas such as full employment and eco- 
nomic development through co-operatives and 
credit unions. Both programs encountered consis- 
tent objections from business groups and conserva- 
tive politicians about "left-wing ideas" and their 
philosophical connections to the social democratic 
party, the Canadian Commonwealth Federation 
(CCF, the precursor to the NDP). In response, pro- 
gram staff and their supporters cited the right to use 
the air waves for discussion of public issues and the 
need for an autonomous public media. 

The radio forums ran until the end of the 1950s and 
the beginning of a very different communications 
environment. The CBC was by then devoting most of 
its programming funds and creative personnel to the 
new medium of television. But their legacy is still rel- 
evant for media activists today. The forums demon- 
strated the radical potential of broadcasting media: 
they promoted the ideals of the "two-way" commu- 
nication and participatory democracy, involving 
thousands of people across the country in discussing 
and organizing around important political, economic 
and social issues. (Since then Farm Radio Forum, has 
been used as a model for radio listening groups in 
India, Africa and other countries of the south) . 

I also think community radio and other media 
activists can learn from their failure. The radio 
forums were limited both by their institutional incor- 
poration within the CBC and by their liberal pluralist 
conception of advocacy. Canadian adult educator 
Ron Fans attributes the end of the forums "to the 
decline of the social movements after the War and to 
the fact that unlike the Farm Forum, the Citizen's 
Forum did not encourage listener "action projects" 
(Raboy, 1990). 

Since political and economic constraints on both 
sponsoring organizations (CAAE and CBC) pre- 
vented the development of clearly radical program- 
ming or associated action, projects, no possibility of 
sustaining a social movement existed. Thus, the 
forum was viewed not as a goad to group social 
action, but, rather, as a means of personal enlight- 
enment which might or might not lead to personal 
action. (Fans, cited in Raboy, 1990). 

The forums were the last time public interest 
groups were ever directly involved in programming 
"except in a strictly advisory capacity" (Raboy, 1990, 
77). 

Vancouver Co-operative Radio 

The Muckrakers and Neighborhood Radio received 
the first Vancouver Co-operative Radio (Co-op 
Radio) license in 1975. Middle class social activists 
and cultural workers, their base was in the next gen- 
eration of social movements: groups organizing 
around the environment, peace and women's issues, 
urban development, aboriginal issues, and trade 



20 • CMR 



unions. 

Their initial conception 
was also broadly educa- 
tional: the radio service 
would broadcast public dis- 
cussions of social, political 
and economic issues. 
However, unlike the forums, 
who used radio only as an 
instrument to bring issues to 
groups of listeners organized 
in the community, Co-op 
Radio would bring issues 
from organized groups to 
the airwaves. During that 
period, public meetings and 
commission hearings were 
important fulcra of organiz- 
ing, and the plan was to 
broadcast them, supple- 
mented with programs of 
news, views and interviews. 

The Co-op Radio pioneers 
saw their work as an alterna- 
tive to both main streams — 
public (CBC) and private commercial broadcasting. 
Unlike Spry and the Radio League, they did not 
choose between "the state or the United States." 
Instead they applied for a license for a local and 
regional service on the margins of the country and 
the communications system. While the rationale foi 
commercial stations was to deliver a "mass" audi- 
ence to advertisers, Co-op Radio argued for "special 
casting," programming by and for the large number 
of groups who had little access to mainstream sta- 
tions. There would be no commercials but Co-op 
Radio would be funded through annual groups and 
individual memberships. 

Many of the charter members were and are still 
active in public debates about the media. In hind- 
sight, though, I wonder whether their community 
radio idea represented a retreat from the earlier 
vision of a national alternative, to what has become a 
more vulnerable marginal position. At the time, their 
local orientation met with little opposition from the 
governing Liberal Party or from corporate radio. 
Since then, there have been several dramatic shifts in 
the media and political environments, whose con- 
juncture have affected the station significantly. 

A New Generation of Programmers 

By the 1980s, when I started working at Co-op 
Radio, there had been a significant decline in profit 
for most Canadian commercial AM and many FM 
stations as advertising dollars went to television or 
back south with their US parent companies. One of 
the responses of private broadcasters was to lobby 
for deregulation from the Canadian Radio Television- 
telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Their 
efforts were boosted when the Conservative Party 
came to power in 1984 and by the end of the decade, 




Vancouver City Councillor Libby Davies at Vancou 
ver's Marathon Kick-off. 



programming regulations 
for commercial stations had 
been reduced. The only real 
continuing requirement is 
that they broadcast a mini- 
mum of 30 percent Cana- 
dian music. 

There has not been the 
same concern for the com- 
munity radio sector, During 
the 1980s, many student- 
run stations expanded their 
mandates and applied for 
community FM licenses, 
forming a loose national 
network called the National 
Campus and Community 
Radio Association (NCRA) 
with Co-op Radio. (No 
longer is Co-op Radio the 
only community-oriented 
station outside of Quebec.) 

This growth can be 
accounted for in part by the 

changing composition of the 

programmers, and another new generation of social 
movements: those of us who are lesbian or gay, soli- 
darity groups from the Latin American, Irish and 
Palestinian communities and most recently younger 
activists from women and men of color. There has also 
been a radicalizing of form and content of program- 
ming, amidst a much more conservative mainstream 
media and overall political climate. The inevitable 
clash has, however, not been very public, but within 
the office of the government regulator, the CRTC. 

There has been an increasing number of skir- 
mishes over programming content, especially in the 
last five years. Whether — for example, between 
Palestinian programmers and members of the 
Canadian Jewish Congress; lesbian and gay program- 
mers and fundamentalist Christian groups; within 
communities; or over the sexism of language used in 
words and music — these cases underline serious 
political conflicts within the wider society. 

However, the CRTC has regarded them punitively, 
as conditions for withdrawing our radio license. 
While commercial radio regulations have been 
reduced, the demands on community stations have 
increased and volunteer stations like ours have had 
to devote the all-too-scarce energy to maintaining 
diplomacy with the CRTC. These battles have 
become critical for the survival of the stations them- 
selves and also remind us that the Canadian state will 
intervene when groups begin to threaten the status 
quo. 

The Programming Legacy 

These incidents show the boundaries of what is tol- 
erable in the "public" discourse. Yet, I want to widen 
the frame beyond the right to advocate alternative 



Guides to 
Activist Film 
and Video 
from Media 
Network 

39 West 14th street 
Suite 403 

NewYork, NY 10011 
(212) 929-2663 

> Media Network, A 
Reality Check on the 
American Dream: We 
Guide to Anti-Poverty 
film and video. New 
York: Media Network, 
1991. 

> Media Network, 
Bombs Aren't Cool: 
A guide to over 100 
of the best films and 
videos on Peace, 
Militarism and 
Disarmament, New 
York: Media Network, 
1988. 

> Media Network, In 
Her Own Image: Films 
and Videos 
Empowering Women 
for the Future. New 
York: Media Network, 
1991. 

> Media Network, 
Seeing Through Aids. 
New York, Media 
Network, 1990. 



continued next page 



CMR • 21 



Publications 
on Radio 

> Bruce Girard, cd.. A Passion for 
Radio. Montreal: Black Rose 
Books, 1992. 

A collection of articles from 
AMARC dealing with community 
radio and its relationship to culture 
and development and the issues 
involved in organizing, starting and 
operating a community station. 

Black Rose Books 

340 Nagel Drive 

Cheektowaga, New York 1422S 

> Radio Resistor's Bulletin 
P.O. Box 3038 

Bellingham, Washington 98227- 
3038 

Articles on community and 
micro-radio, and activism involved 
with putting the public back in 
public radio. 

> Reclaiming the Airwaves 
Free Radio Berkely 

Free Communications Coalition 
1442 A Walnut Street, #406 
Berkeley, Calif ornia 94709 

Micro-radio, court cases, and 
activism both domestic arid interna- 
tional around issues preserving the 
airwaves as a medium of public 
communication. 

> Inter radio 
Published by AMARC 

(World Association of Community 

Radio Broadcasters) 

3575 Boui. St. Laurent, #704 

Montreal, Quebec 

H2X 2T7 Canada 

A newsletter devoted to commu- 
nity radio. Features news profiles 
of radio projects, technical tips, 
reviews and information about 
AMARC activities. 



22 ••CMR 



continued from previous page 

and controversial views: is alternative radio 
using the full communicational and educa- 
tional potential of the medium for social 
change? Just as the radio forums before, the 
programs are seldom being seized by social 
movements as their own. In practice, the link 
to different groups and organizations was and 
is mediated by a corps of volunteer program- 
mers who do not draw on the participatory 
educational model of the radio forums. 

At first, programmers drew on another 
legacy — CBC public affairs. Sometimes they 
were one and the same people; mostly but 
not exclusively, white and male, usually from 
liberal arts backgrounds, they produced well- 
researched documentaries. And at the Co-op 
Radio station, producers could be more up 
front about their left of center politics. As 
"critical witnesses", they would broadcast 
information not heard on the CBC or other 
stations, gathering the "silenced" voices and 
views, and uncovering the hidden context 
behind mainstream stories and life. 

Originally drawing from the women's 
movement but now much more generalized, 
more recent programmers such as myself and 
others have refined another idea, that of "self- 
representation": those involved in a particular 
issue or community know best how to pre- 
sent their own stories. While the earlier pro- 
grammers often assumed they were speaking 
to a general audience, many now speak much 
more self-consciously from their subject posi- 
tions as marginalized people, to address lis- 
teners they assume are members of their 
community. 

Many programmers encourage interaction 
with their listeners via phone-in shows, open 
houses, and participation by programmers at 
public events of all kinds. However, most of 
their energy is directed to weekly program 
production. While they may rely on commu- 
nity-based organizations for program con- 
tent, there has been little effort beyond these 
institutional links to develop more interactive 
relationships with listeners, to explore how 
they listen and interpret the programming in 
the context of their daily lives. 

Too often, both of these models have 
resulted in a one-way flow of communica- 
tions from programmer to individual listener, 
not that different from the dominant main- 
stream model. Too often the medium has 
been one of reaction, where programmers 
speak from a different political or subject 
position, but still use the same talking-down 
style of address as the dominant commercial 
or state-operated media. At the last World 
Community Radio (AMARC) conference, 
many of the other community radios in North 



America, Europe and Latin America also iden- 
tified this as a problem and a challenge and 
have been working on changing it. 

Some Final Questions 

Way back in 1980, Co-op Radio co-founder 
Liora Salter criticized the way that democratic 
participation was only being evaluated by 
examining the process of program production 
(Salter, 1980). It is still too often the case that 
the success of a project such as ours at 
Vancouver Co-operative Radio is evaluated 
simply in terms of the number and multiplicity 
of new social subjects that have access to the 
medium. Is this not just a wrinkle on the lib- 
eral pluralist ideal where democratic participa- 
tion is no longer defined in terms of access to 
the public discourse, but even more narrowly, 
in terms of access to the technology. 

We need to also evaluate the impact of 
community-based media on the mobilization 
and organization of social movements 
(Strangelaar, 1985) that are working to change 
power relations at all levels. Rafael 
Roncagliolo, a Peruvian media critic, in an 
address to international video producers in 
Montreal, suggested we need to make a dis- 
tinction between alternatives that position 
themselves on the borders of mainstream 
institutions of the market and the state and 
| those that actively oppose dominant rela- 
tions. In other words, we need to choose 
between the alternative and the alterative: 
"that which has the power to stir things up 
and create change". (Roncagliolo, 1991) 

Sources 

Raboy, Marc. (1990) Missed Opportunities: The Story 
of Canada's Broadcasting Policy. Kingston and 
Montreal: McGill- Queen's University Press. 

Roncagliolo, Rafael. (1991) Notes on "the 
Alternative" in Nancy Thede, and Alain Ambrosi, 
eds., Video the Changing World. Montreal: Black 
Rose Books. 

Salter, Liora (1980) Two Directions on a One-Way 
Street: Old and New Media Approaches in Two 
Decades in Thelma McCormack, ed., Studies in 
i Communications: A Research Annual, Vol. 1. 
Green™ ch, Connecticut, Jai Press. 

Strangelaar, Fred. (1985) Materials from the. 
Workshop on International Worker Communi- 
cation by Computer, Institute on Social Studies, The 
Hague. 

Dorothy Kidd has been active in a variety of 
community-based media in Canada for 
twenty years, has worked in video, radio, abo- 
riginal and multi-lingual broadcasting, vol 
unteers at Vancouver Co-operative radio, and 
is preparing an article on women and grass 
roots media. Dorothy extends thanks to 
Eleanor O'Donnell and Denise Nadeaufor 
their helpful suggestions. 



Where Independent Media Made a Difference 



Citizen Producers in Eastern Europe, 1989-1991 



By Chris Hill 

Video news magazines produced with con- 
sumer camcorders by citizens' groups in 
Hungary (Black Box) and former Czechoslo- 
vakia (Original Video Journal) were part of vital 
underground news networks prior to government 
reforms in 1989-90. Black Box documented 60,000 
people demonstrating in front of the Magyar TV 
building in Budapest in 1992 because the Media Law, 
a national telecommunications act establishing that 
TV and radio be free from government interference, 
was (and remains) threatened by conservative lead- 
ership. Citizens' camcorders documented citizens 
and soldiers battling for the control of television stu- 
dios and radio transmitters in Romania in 1989 and 
in Lithuania in 1991. And government- controlled TV 
crews decided in 1989-91 to broadcast reports on 
strikes and mass demonstrations against censoring 
authorities in former Czechoslovakia, Romania and 
the former USSR, signaling to their fellow citizens 
that a democratic media would be an essential public 
stage for setting new political and cultural agendas in 
Eastern Europe. 

In examining tapes produced during this period of 
dramatic reform in Eastern Europe, it is clear that 
camcorder documentation of public dialogue and 
active resistance, the timely copying and wide distri- 
bution of videotaped evidence of activism, and the 
control of TV and radio broadcast studios and trans- 
mitters were strategic challenges to centralized com- 
munications systems which controlled access to the 
means of production and distribution of information. 

Independent work from 1989-91 not only testifies 
to a public's passionate desire for free speech and 
crealion o\ open channels, it additionally challenged 
the often decades-long inability of most of the citi- 
zenry in Eastern Europe to simply access duplication 
technologies — printing presses, xerox machines, 
tape dubbing, making prints of films. When speaking 
to people about media and information exchange 
before the reforms of 1989-90, most describe gossip 
and samizdat — illegal printed materials and most 
recently illegal video— as the primary channels of 
opposition. 

Many Americans would find life without copiers 
virtually inconceivable and would voice solidarity 
with media activists in Eastern Europe, understand- 
ing that challenging their monolithic media apparata 
would be fundamental to establishing new and 
democratic societies. Of course, our own self-con- 
gratulating democratic society reflects the deadly 
injustices of keeping certain communities virtually 
invisible within mainstream media, of reducing the 
articulation of important issues to sound bites, and 
of limiting the access of a diverse spectrum of speak- 
ers to a public stage. 




During the past year 
I collaborated with 
Keiko Sei, a jour- 
nalist working since 
1987 with indepen- 
dent media makers 
in Budapest, Prague f 
and Bucharest, to 
organize for U.S. | 
audiences a pro- 
gram of video- 
tapes made by 
citizens' video 
collectives, inde 
pendent TV pro 
ducers and artists 

in Eastern Europe, most of them using camcorders 
and simple off-line editing such as is commonly 
available through public access centers. 

Like public access producers here, citizens' groups 
in these countries were producing video documenta- 
tion of unreported political and cultural events. 
Underground video news magazines by the Czech 
Original Video Journal (OVJ), for example, show East 
Germans in August 1989 (three months before the 
Berlin Wall fell and the Velvet Revolution resulted in 
major reforms in former Czechoslovakia), demand- 
ing temporary asylum in Prague and finally emigra- 
tion to West Germany, These desperate 
asylum-seekers who occupied the city center for days 
provoked what was later described as the beginning 
of the dissolution of existing governments. The OVJ 
tapes are fascinating because, as with a good public 
access show, the producers demonstrate a commit- 
ment to participate actively in a public dialogue 
enriched by independent points of view. 

Without access to any legal public exhibitions or 
channels, however, these tapes - important evidence 
of active opposition to existing policies and govern- 
ments - were screened in private apartments or 
storefronts and bicycled to other towns, often at 
great personal risk. The Hungarian Black Box collec- 
tive began in 1987 to create an independent under- 
ground video archive and circulate news reports. 
Through the reform period of 1988-90 they docu- 
mented landmark political meetings, late night 
shredding and dumping of official records, rallies of 
emerging nationalist groups, interviews with disen- 
franchised ethnic minority communities. Their illegal 
tapes became widely distributed public evidence that 
official authorities were being challenged by citizens 
in different parts of the country. Hungarian writer 
Maiianna Padi remarks 1 . "The force and potential 
danger the Black Boxes represent against power 



■ From 19S9: the Real 
Power of TV 
by Gusztav Hamos, 
Hungary* 1991 



"...it is clear that 
camcorder documenta- 
tion of public dialogue 
and active resistance, 
the timely copying and 
wide distribution of 
videotaped evidence of 
activism, and the con- 
trol of TV and radio 
broadcast studios and 
transmitters were 
strategic challenges to 
centralized communica- 
tions systems..." 



continued next page 



CMR >*23 



"You can't trust 
television. Regimes 
come and go, who 
knows what part of 
Hungarian and world 
history Hungarian TV 
puts away for the 
future." 




- From 1989: the 
Real Power of TV 
by Gusztav Hamos, 
Hungary, 1991. 



Judit Hopper's 
tapes are 
available through 
Video Data Bank — 
312/345-3550 

Gusztav Hamos' 
tape is distributed 
by Electronic 
Arts Intermix — 
212/966-4605 

Harun Farocki and 
Andrei Ujica's film 
can be rented from 
Drift Distribution — 
212/254-4118. 



abusers in Hungary lies in the mere existence of their 
compilated material. The obese Black Box archives 
(the result of their indefatigable, constant presence 
virtually everywhere where the 'flow' is likely to 
become an 'event') form not just a collection of news 
items. They constitute a fragment of the hidden con- 
science of the country" (from "Black Box," in Next 5 
Minutes Zttpbook, 1992). 

After the 1989-91 reforms, the reconstruction of 
national media resources became highly contested 
territory. Decisions around (de)centralization of 
resources and access to production and distribution 

directly impacted polit- 
ical, social, and cul- 
tural agendas in 
I nation-building. 
Furthermore, media 
channels and view- 
ers/consumers con- 
stituted an eco- 
nomic asset which 
could function as 
part of some gov- 
ernment's con- 
struction of the 
public good or be 
exchanged for 
much needed cash 
in times of extreme economic hardship. 
In Lithuania in 1992, one year after declaring inde- 
pendence from the former USSR, evening television 
offered hours of national debate on restructuring 
housing policies, modestly produced by local crews, as 
well as imported entertainment and the world news 
from satellite— music videos from Moscow, films from 
Poland, international news from Great Britain. In a 
recent interview, independent Hungarian TV produc- 
ers Judit Kopper and Andras Solyom estimated that 
40% of Hungarian television is imported, much of it 
from the U.S. While Americans become xenophobic 
over foreign investors buying up U.S. urban real 
estate, farms and businesses, there is little information 
presented to the public here about how the second 
largest net U.S. export, entertainment media, func- 
tions as part of the cultural diet and national economy 
in developing countries. 

Produced for television from 1988-93, Kopper's 
encyclopedic series Videoworld addressed the enter- 
prises of mass and personal media making in both 
Eastern and Western Europe, In Mihaly Kornis 
Videouniverse she reported on the personal video 
archive of a well-known Hungarian writer who 
claimed "You can't trust television. Regimes come and 
go, who knows what part of Hungarian and world his- 
tory Hungarian TV puts away for the future. Maybe 
they save everything, but I can imagine they might not 
show it to me." 

Their program TV Boris and Video Misha studied 
the struggle on Soviet television between what was 
described as Eastern word-dominated and Western 
image-based media cultures. Kopper remarked, "We 



involved with Videoworld and still ask ourselves the 
question over and over again: what really is video?. 
..an art which works like narcotics and is a drug to 
both young and old?. . . a weapon of politics?. . .a mis- 
used means of communication in international and 
national television?" Kopper and Solyom's incisive 
media analysis and sincere questioning of both media 
consumption and media making by amateurs, artists 
and television professionals is unlike any U.S. com- 
mercial television I am aware of. In its attention to 
heartfelt local cultural concerns and the development 
of public dialogue it is much more akin to public 
access programming. In December, 1993, Videoworld 
was cancelled by the newly empowered conservative 
national leadership. 

Other remarkable documents from this period 
include Gusztav Hamos' tape 1989 — the Real Power 
o/7Vfeaturing his grandmother in Budapest watching 
the international events of 1989 on her TV and Harun 
Farocki and Andrei Ujica's 1992 film Videagrammes — 
a Revolution which reconstructs the events of 
December 1989 in Bucharest from collected video 
footage produced by many citizens' camcorders as 
well as the cameras in the besieged television studio 
that broadcast continuously for five days. Unlike most 
of the U.S. which saw edited "highlights" from this 
period as part of their daily predigested news diet, 
some Western European media services and notably 
neighboring Hungary and Czechoslovakia, which were 
in the midst of radical government reforms them- 
selves, carried live coverage around the clock. 

Farocki and Ujica's title suggests that the video 
footage of events, the "videogrammes" themselves, 
equate to a kind of revolution, a radical revisioning of 
the public established through fellow citizens' seeing, 
recording and transmitting of events, through people 
temporarily taking control of the means of media pro- 
duction and the dissemination of information. 

In recent years as political and economic instability 
continues throughout the region, much of what was 
originally claimed by demonstrative citizens as public 
space has been contested or taken back by ruling 
elites. We, too, have seen an erosion of public space in 
the U.S. in recent years, and democratic access to the 
expanding information superhighway will surely be an 
ongoing struggle. But an oppositional voice did 
emerge in Eastern Europe as Hungarians, Czechoslo- 
vaks and Romanians in 1989-1990 were able to focus 
available media, the modest camcorder productions 
bicycled through the city as well as the cameras and 
microphones tethered to the broadcast towers, to dis- 
seminate information and establish new electronic 
forums, however fragile, where public agendas could 
be debated. 

Chris Hill has served on the Board of Directors of 
BCAM, Buffalo's public access operator, since 1990, and 
is video curator at Hallwalls, an artists-run center in 
Buffalo, New York. The tapes described are part of a 
touring program Eastern Europe — TV & Politics. She 
can be contacted do Hallwalls, 2495 Main Street, #425, 
Buffalo, New York 14202, 716/884-4571. 



24 • CMR 



Yet Another Cautionary Note 
on the Electronic Superhighway 



By Bob Devine 

If we examine the rough outline of the national information infras- 
tructure that is emerging, and situate it within the context of the 
growth and development of the cable industry, we find the following: 
The system will be mass-distribution- rather than communication- 
oriented. Streeter (1987) notes that the original "blue sky" predictions 
with regard to diversity in cable television have never materialized. 
Cable has tended to seek "the same mass audiences that broadcast 
networks have traditionary sought" (p. 194). The idea of narrowcast- 
ing — reaching discrete audiences with special interest programming 
— has always been one of the major features differentiating cable from 
broadcasting, but cable and satellite delivered channels have consis- 
tently directed efforts toward "reaching mass audiences with pro- 
grams of distinct commercial appeal" (Brown, 1980, p. 18). The 
electronic superhighway vision emphasizes the volume and diversity 
of programming services possible, and the concomitant choices avail- 
able to the consumer. A large number of programming services, how- 
ever, does not necessarily correlate with diversity if those services are 
carrying similar programming (Dejong and Bates, 1991, p. 160). The ' 
market forces that shape programming on the electronic superhigh- 
way will require special interest programming to have "sufficiently 
attractive" demographics to survive (Winner, 1993, p. B2) and as 
Bollier (1993) reminds us, "much of the excellent television program- 
ming which has been aimed at education, civic participation and the- 
ater has not been able to survive the fierce gales of marketplace 
competition" (p. 3). The thresholds for entry to the electronic super- 
highway will require that programming and information services find 
a mass audience to support and sustain them. 

Construction and Programming of the system will be market- rather 
than need-driven. An article in the Washington Post cites an industry 
analyst as saying, "They're not linking fiber to satellites in Harlem" 
(Skrzycki and Fahri, 1993, p. H7). The test beds and sophisticated sys- 
tems for delivering a wide range of interactive telecommunications sys- 
tems to the home are for the most part located in communities that 
have "robust demographics" (p. H7). There is clear indication that the 
development is driven by a need to extend and enhance markets and to 
distribute commodities and services to an affluent and electronically lit- 
erate segment of the population rather than to address a social agenda 
of communications needs. The heralded access to on-line health and 
education benefits, for example, was brought into sharp relief in a 
recent California Public Utilities Commission meeting; educators there 
informed the Commission that, while access to networks is through 
phone lines, only two percent of the state's school rooms have tele- 
phones in them (Haugsted, 1993, p. 1 10). In its prospectus on 
Promoting the Public Interest, the Benton Foundation (1993) notes that, 
"...these new networks are costly; they are likely to be built for the rich 
long before they reach the poor." Those services that are most likely to 
be availabie are those services which are most likely to generate the rev- 
enue necessary to make the system profitable. Meehan's (1988) study of 
Warner's QUBE system argues that the programming in a market-driven 
system will also sacrifice diversity and public good to commercial viabil- 
ity. The developmental phase of MTV, Meehan argues, excluded black 
or urban music because the white suburban audience of the Columbus 
testbed for QUBE provided demographics which were more attractive to 
advertisers, and did not prefer that diverse range of expression (p. 176). 
At the same time, the evolution of Columbus' Pinwheel channel into the 



satellite-delivered Nickelodeon channel, she contends, involved moving 
from a programming model of education -centered public good (a strat- 
egy for securing the franchise) to a model of commercial viability that in 
many cases ignored and compromised the educational and public val- 
ues of the original model (p. 180). It is unlikely that a market-driven sys- 
tem will attend to public good or minoritarian interests in delivering 
programming, except as those interests are commercially viable. 

Service delivery will be privatized and tiered by ability to pay. The 
benefits of the electronic superhighway will be available to those who 
can afford them. We already can see the emergence of a two-class sys- 
tem in the pay-as -you go programs of museums and libraries, in the 
qualitative differences between public and private education, and in 
tiering of basic and pay cable. If we examine the diffusion patterns of 
these technologies most often associated with the superhighway 
metaphor, their middle-class grounding becomes apparent. Sixty- 
eight percent of American households own a VCR, and the use/owner- 
ship of one communications technology seems to correlate with 
ownership and/or use of others. Seven out often cable households 
have a VCR, while one in six VCR households also owns a camcorder. 
VCR households tend to be larger, younger and more upscale than 
non-VCR households with 64 percent living in the largest metro areas. 
Eighty percent of VCR households have an income of over $40,000 a 
year, and as a group VCR owners spend $13 billion a year on videotape 
purchase and rental 1 . The personal computer has found its way into 
25 percent of American homes, but again it is primarily the "upper 
deck" households that have acquired such information processing 
capacity. 2 Cable penetration crossed the 60 percent threshold during 
1991 3 , and in spite of the fact that less than half of all cable subscribers 
think that the programming is better than broadcast television, it is 
predicted that cable will reach 70 percent of U.S. households by 1 994' 4 . 
In the example of cable television, while Dejong and Bates (1991, p. 
164) find that both the absolute and relative diversity of cable chan- 
nels increased between 1976 and 1986, they also note that the major 
gains in diversity are available to those who can pay for them. The 
availability of diverse information and services, has, in effect, been pri- 
vatized. The flow of information, hence, continues to follow the con- 
tours of existing information. It seems safe to assume that use of the 
more sophisticated capacities and services provided by broadband 
delivery will also be the province of the middle- and upper-middle 
classes. Clearly the technological base that we assume to be standard 
for most projections of an informationally rich future is contingent on 
discretionary income, and to some degree will be accessible only to 
certain segments of the broad population. 

Access to the superhighway will be limited. Dordick (Freedom 
Forum, 1993) notes that the national information service implied by 
the "electronic superhighway" metaphor should imply, "...a strong 
complement of the public good, universally available to all, regardless 
of income, education, literacy and language proficiency, geographic 
location, class, race, and any other of the potentially divisive and dis- 
criminatory issues that often corrupt our society" [p. 23). If the deliv- 
ery of information and social services is tied to marketability, such 
delivery will be (a) aimed at, (b) built for, (c) programmed for, and (d) 
priced for those who can best afford the services, rather than for those 
who most need them. The result will be "divergences in opportunity 

continued next page 
CMR "25 



and in the consequences of communication between haves and have- 
nots," (McQuail, 1987, p. 443) and general economic stratification in 
terms of access to delivered services. Using the electronic superhigh- 
way to initiate communications, to interact around messages with 
other community members, or to add one's voice or cultural practice 
to the marketplace will be accessible to those few entities who own, 
manage and program the network and to those who are sufficiently 
resourced to lease time on the system. Even the sort of "equitable 
access" for nonprofit public interest groups advocated by the Benton 
Foundation (1993, p. 5) does not fully succeed in permitting a 
"robust, diverse, competitive information environment" in that a 
wide range of potential speakers or information providers will simply 
not be able to gain access. 

Interactivity will be confined to a consumer menu. The vision for 
interactivity in the original "wired city" scenario was that of a large 
channel capacity permitting a variety of services which would 
enhance public dialogue, permit direct citizen participation, allow for 
governmental educational and health institutions to communicate 
with one another, and in general improve the efficiency of municipal 
services {Moss, 1984, p. 235). Subscribers would be able to participate 
in electronic polling, to send and receive messages, and participate in 
home shopping, while services such as utility meter reading and 
home security would be facilitated through the cable network (p. 
235). The QUBE version of interactivity offered subscribers the oppor- 
tunity to name a baby, "gong" an amateur talent program, order a 
boxing match or uninterrupted movie (Dolan, 1984, p. 68) as well as 
some participatory public affairs programming (Davidge, 1987, p. 88). 
Criticism of the public polling conducted by QUBE as "unscientific" 
and "a prescription for chaos" (Dolan, 1984, p. 69) however, 
prompted Warner-Amex to pull back from interactive programming 
dealing with more substantive and significant public issues (Davidge, 
1987, p. 98). Research on wired city experiments indicated that inter- 
active programming did not have a clear definition (Becker, 1987, p. 
121), that television viewers did not prefer the interactive services to 
the conventional delivery of one-way programming (King, 1987, p. 
410). The National Science Foundation sponsored studies of interac- 
tive testbeds in Reading, Pennsylvania, Spartanburg, South Carolina 
and Rockford, Illinois, produced some qualified successes in a range 
of service applications (Moss, 1976, p. 469; Becker, 1987, p. 112), while 
the QUBE experiments seemed to indicate a public preference for 
movies and entertainment. Current visions of interactivity do not 
share the same sorts of concerns that were the subject of interactive 
testbeds of the 1970s. The social concerns regarding the effects of 
programming on audiences, how organizations use the technology, 
and the uses of technology for "general involvement in social and 
political processes" (Becker, 1987, p. 105.) has been transformed to a 
concern with enhancing, "the way people manipulate entertainment 
in their home" (Moss, 1993, p. 9). The menu of interactive services 
being contemplated on the supply-driven side of the development of 
the electronic superhighway include: 

...stand-alone channels, such as the Game Channel; transac- 
tional services, such as home shopping; video games and contests; 
movies and video-on-demand; ads-on-demand; on-scrccn pro- 
gram guides; and informational and educational offerings (p. 9). 
The latitude for interaction in this vision — shopping, viewing 
diverse ads, movies and educational offerings and playing games — is 
carefully circumscribed within the consumer role. The interactive 
choices in those systems currently in development or on the drawing 
board are from a limited (though expanding) range of products and 
services preselected by the system operator on the basis of their mar- 
ket appeal, the interactions themselves are not with programmers or 

26 • CMR 



with other community members, but with the system operators, and 
the inleractant does not really have the ability to initiate communica- 
tion inleractions that are not tied to requests for products or services. 
Such systems have been more appropriately characterized as "reac- 
tive" (Williams, 1977, pp. 139-140; Streeter, 1987, p. 194) and "inter- 
passive" (Winner, 1993, p. B2) than as interactive. Raboy (1991) 
describes the emerging telecommunications infrastructure as one in 
which "the commercial replaces the public and the citizen is rede- 
fined as a consumer" (p. 165). 

The public dimension will be diminished, if not absent. The array 
of media and networks engendered by the electronic superhighway 
lead in two directions. On the one hand, they turn the consumer away 
from the local, toward watching programming from afar, consuming 
mass media without any real interaction, and even shopping without 
interaction. On the other hand, they turn the consumer toward the 
very personal; self- entertaining through games, interactive software 
programs or watching movies at home rather than in a theater, time 
shifting and self-structuring, and working at home via computer 
interface. The problem with the technologies of the electronic super- 
highway is that they seem to foster private culture, expand private 
space and result in the diminution of a public sphere. Given the array 
of "future" technologies, a person can work, bank, be entertained and 
even browse the public library from the confines of the private space 
of the home. The newspaper can be delivered by modem, interactions 
can be conducted by e-mail, and electronic polling projections can 
make democratic participation, including voting, unnecessary. Those 
connected to the national information infrastructure will have 
tremendous freedom of choice, but for the most part the choices will 
be constrained to private consumption, taking place almost entirely 
in a private sphere. What is missing from the vision is the public level 
of interaction around messages that binds a community together. 
Consuming involves interaction, but it does not include the full spec- 
trum of interaction that is called "communication", and when 
accomplished in the private arena of the home, it also fails to engage 
the participant in the issues, concerns and cultural expressions that 
are held in common by a community. Further, the richness of presen- 
tational and interactive codes involved in human communication is 
diminished by electronic interaction as well. The telephone strips 
away the presentational codes of gesture, facial expression, kinesics 
and proxemics, while computer-based forms of communicative inter- 
action remove intonation, pace, rhythm and timing of interactions, 
enunciation and the prosodic codes from the communication. In 
addition, privatizing electronic communications diminish or elimi- 
nate many of the basic characteristics of interactivity — negotiation 
of a means of exchange, small grain, interruptibility, turn-taking, 
graceful degradation, guided interpretation and the common produc- 
tion of meaning. The implications of the use of privatizing technolo- 
gies is the erosion of the capabilities for reasoned public discourse, 
and the absence of an arena in which a public might constitute itself 
and forge public opinion. 

The voices in the marketplace will be few. Those that provide 
entertainment and/ or information services for a mass audience will 
predominate, and those who, "have far better access than their poten- 
tial rivals to the social, financial and organizational resources needed 
to effectively create and promote ideas" (Ginsberg, 1986, p. 89), will 
be most able to utilize the reach of the electronic superhighway to 
enter into the marketplace. An optimistic scenario might include the 
voices of non-profit public interest organizations in the electronic 
marketplace, but those voices will speak for , speak about and inter- 
pret the local, the disenfranchised, the minority voice or the "other". 
The diverse voices of the "audience" can be polled and measured in 



the aggregate, but again, the few will speak for and about the 
many, and the multitude of tongues envisioned in utilitarian 
interpretations of the First Amendment will not be able to par- j 
ticipate or to be heard. 

The much-heralded diversity that the superhighway might 
bring us will be (a) suspiciously familiar in form, style and genre 
to the mass market materials that now fill up the channel line- I 
up 5 , and (b) conveniently matched to our ability to pay. Our 
geographic communities stand a great chance of leading paral- 
lel lives; we might share viewing experiences with those who 
have the same ability to purchase specialized entertainment or 
information services, but our electronic environment will be 
generic and non-local. Our participation will involve making 
and enacting consumer choices rather than debating options, 
forging public opinion or creating culture. 

Fifty years of public policy with regard to communications 
has been aimed at (a) stimulating and invigorating local politi- ' 
cat dialogue, and (b) vitalizing and sustaining local cultural life. 
For the most part regulation has sought these ends through the 
protection of the listener, by attempting to ensure many voices 
— local voices — and trying to bolster the utilitarian concept of 
a lively and accessible marketplace of ideas. The opening of the 
UHF spectrum attempted to open up opportunities for local 
independent voices, but the effort for the most part failed to 
accomplish its objectives. The prime-time give-back rules, 
aimed at stimulating local public affairs and cultural program- 
ming created a syndicated ghetto of game shows. The ongoing 
debates about must-carry rules for local channels on cable 
seems destined for the same kind of failure. And now we are 
confronted with a high speed, high-tech, capital intensive 
superhighway which will roar past our local community geogra- 1 
phies carrying an abundance of programming and services — 
all directing the users attention away from the "community" 
which has, in the past, been the main locus of "holding in com- 
mon". While some are worried about having sufficient on- 
ramps for this superhighway and the tolls involved, I am 
concerned about those who, in the language of the metaphor, ' 
cannot afford to own or rent a car and sometimes cannot even 
afford the gasoline. Everett Parker (Freedom Forum, 1993) 
points out that "In Watts, on the west side of Chicago, in Crown I 
Heights and Washington Heights, there are no faxes. There is no 
voice mail or data processing and sometimes not even phone 
service.... The way in which we are deploying and using elec- 
tronic technologies makes it absolutely necessary that we face 
up to this moral and political aspect of the electronic environ- 
ment" (p, 28). I am concerned about the local cultural practices 
that will he bypassed as surely as the highway bypassed Glenrio, 
Texas, about the local public debates that need to take place, I 
about the community participation that is so essential, about 
the many voices and the vernacular. 

Public access, it seems, is one of the few arenas in which such 
concerns can be addressed. In the earlier "wired city" vision the | 
concept of town-hall-like public discussion and participation 
played a central role. Access was not limited to consumer 
choices about home-delivered information and entertainment, 
but involved giving voice to the minority perspectives, nurtur- 
ing vital public debate and discussion, bringing private citizens 
into public life, balancing local and global perspectives, and 
ensuring participation in civic life and in the formation of pub- 
lic opinion. In the "electronic superhighway" vision, it seems, 



Resources on the National 
Information Infrastructure 

> The Telecommunications Policy Roundtable has its own Internet 
Discussion List that includes many documents concerning telecom- 
munications legislation and the perspectives of various organizations 
participating in the Telecommunications Policy Roundtable. To 
Subscribe, send an e-mail message addressed to LISTPROC@CNI.ORG 
with a one-line message that says, "subscribe roundtable your name" 

>■ For information about the Telecommunication Policy 
Roundtable, pending bills and possible public responses contact 
A The Center for Media Education (202) 628-2620 
A The Alliance for Community Media (202) 393-2650 
A The Electronic Frontier Foundation (202) 347-5400 
A Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility [202) 544-9240 
A NAM AC (510) 451-2717 

> The Center for Media Education has just published the first issue of 
Interactive, a newsletter dealing with technologies related to the 
Superhighway, grants and funding opportunities and Washington pol- 
icy updates. Contact The Center for Media Education 151 1 K St., N.W. 
Suite 518, Washington, D.C. 2005: telephone 202-628-2620; fax (202) 
628-2544; e-mail cme@access.digex.net. 

>■ For information on various state policy initiatives and model 
telecommunications legislation, contact Richard Civille at the Center 
for Civic Networking, P.O. Box 55272, Washington, DC 20035; tele- 
phone (202)362-3831; fax (202) 408-1056; e-mail rciville@civicnet.org 

>■ TAP-INFO is an Internet Distribution List provided by the 
Taxpayer Assets Project (TAP). TAP was founded by Ralph Nader to 
monitor the management of government property, including informa- 
tion systems and data, government funded R&D, spectrum allocation 
and other government assets. TAP-INFO reports on TAP activities 
related to federal information policy. Subscription requests to TAP- 
INFO to listserver@essential.org with the message: "subscribe tap-info 
your name" 

• DEVMEDIA is another Internet Distribution List for participatory 
radio, video and TV practitionrs working for the democratisation of 
communication. 
Organizations posting to the list include; 

A Videoazimut - An international coalition, founded in 1990, that 
brings together people from the world of independent and alternative 
video and television from every continent. Together its members act 
to promote the democratic practice of communication. They aim to 
broaden the participation by communities and movements from the 
South and North in sound and image production 

A AMARC - The World Association of Community Radio 
Broadcasters. Supports community and alternative radio stations that 
involve people in participatory commu aication processes 

A Don Snowdon Centre for Development Support Communication. 
Supports the practice of using communication tools (especially small 
format video) in participatory action research and development. 
Located at Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. 

Subscription requests to DEVMEDIA to listserv@uoguelph.ca with 
the message: "subscribe devmcdia your name" 



continued next page 



CMR • 27 



Coalition for 
Independent Media 

A new coalition has been formed 
to be the voice for independent 
media to legislators and policy- 
makers at the federal level. 
NAMAC, the Association of 
Independent Video and 
Filmmakers (AIVF) and the 
Alliance for Community Media 
have joined forces to found a 
national consortium to advocate 
for media arts and community 
media. Current members include 
the National Asian American 
Telecommunications Association, 
the National Coalition of 
Independent Public Broadcasting 
PRoducers, the Independent 
Television Service and the 
National Federation of Community 
Broadcasters. 

The consortium has three goals: 
1) to coordinate information and 
commission research projects as 
needed, 2) to educate and inform 
independents on key policy 
issues, and 3) to put into place 
advocacy systems to mobilize 
constituencies to respond at criti- 
cal points. One focus of the con- 
sortium's work will be on the 
regulation of the range of new 
emerging technologies: a nation- 
wide fiber optics network, "video 
dialtone", high definition televi- 
sion, Direct Broadcast Satellites, 
and interactive television. In addi- 
tion, the Consortium will advocate 
on issues of access to public tele- 
vision (such as reauthorization of 
the Independent Television 
Service) and federal funding for 
the arts. For more information on 
the work of the consortium con- 
tact Martha Wallner at AIVF (212) 
473-3400 or Julian Low at NAMAC 
(510) 451-2717. [From Media 
Matters , Vol. 12, No. 2, 
March/April 1994] 



public access and community communications 
could be a mere footnote. 

Sources 

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(Eds.), Wired Cities; Shaping the future of 
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the Reinvention of Television. Washington, D.C.: 
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Dejong, A. S. and Bates, B. J., (1991). Channel Diversity 
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Dolan, E., (1984). TV or CATV: A Struggle for Power. 
Port Washington, New York: National Dniversity 
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Freedom Forum Media Studies Center, (1992). Media, 
Democracy and the Information Highway: A 
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Ginsberg, B., (1986). The Captive Public: How Mass 
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Books. 

Haugsted.L, (1993c). Cable to Calif.: 'Superhighway 
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1993, pp. 110. 

King, J. L., (1987). Points of Conclusion and 
Comparison. In W. H. Dutton, I. G. Blumler and K. L, 
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Leebaert, R. ed., (1991). Technology 2001: The Future 
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MIT Press. 

McQuail, D., (1987). Research on New Communication 
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W. H. Dutton, J. G. Blumler and K. L. Kraemer, (Eds.), 
Wired Cities: Shaping the Future of Communications. 
Boston: G.K. Hall. 

Meehan, E., (1988). Technical Capability versus 
Corporate Imperatives: Toward a Political Economy of 
Cable Television and Information Diversity. In V. 
Mosco and ]. Wasko, (Eds,), The Political Economy of 
Information. Madison: The University of Wisconsin 
Press. 

Moss, L., (1993). Ops Test: Will Interactive Play with 
Consumers? Multichannel News, 14:23, p. 9. 

Moss, M., L., (Ed.), (1976). Two Way Cable Television: 
An Evaluation of Community Uses in Reading 
Pennsylvania. New York: NYU, Reading Consortium, 



New York University. 

Moss, M. L., and Warren, R., (1984). Public Policy and 
Community-Oriented Uses of Cable Television. Urban 
Affairs Quarterly, 23:2, pp. 233-254, 

Raboy, M., (1991). Communication and the New 
World Order: Strategies for Democratization. In N. 
Thede and A. Ambrosi, (Eds.), Video: The Changing 
World. Montreal: Black Rose Books, pp. 160-175. 

Research Alert, (1991). Future Vision: The 189 Most 
Important Trends of the 1990s. Naperville, Illinois: 
Sourcebooks Trade, pp. 153-155. 

Skrzycki, C, and Farhi, P., (1993). The Multimedia 
Feeding Frenzy. The Washington Post, pp. HI, H6-H7. 

Streeter, T„ (1987). The Cable Pable Revisited: 
Discourse, Policy, and the Making of Cable Television. 
Critical Studies in Mass Communication., 4. pp. 1 74- 
200. 

Waterman, D., and Grant, A., (1991). Cable Television 
as an Aftermarkel. lournalof Broadcasting and 
Electronic Media, 34:2, pp. 179-188. 

Williams, R., (1977). Marxism and Literature. Oxford: 
Oxford University Press. 

Winner, L., (1993). How Technology Reweaves the 
Fabric of Society. Chronicle of Higher Education , 
August 4, 1993, pp. B1-B3. 

Notes 

'Research Alert, Future Vision: The 189 Most 
Important Trends of the 1990s, Naperville, Illinois: 
Sourcebooks Trade, 1991, pp. 153-155. 

2 Research Alert, Ibid., p. 138. In their article 
"Knowledge and Equality: Harnessing the Tides of 
Information Abundance," Harry Tennant and George 
H. Heilmeier note (a) the growth in "knowledge work- 
ers" to sixty percent of the American workforce, (b) the 
decline by six percent of the blue-collar workforce 
between 1978 and 1985, and (c) the increase by 
twenty-one percent of the white-collar workforce 
between 1978 and 1985. The implications of such 
stratified exposure to and experience with information 
processing technology for a future workforce in which 
knowledge work will be dominant are staggering. 
Tennant and Heilmeier, "Knowledge and Equality: 
Harnessing the Tides of Information Abundance," in 
Leebaert, ed., Technology 2001: The Future of 
Computing and Communications. Cambridge: The 
MIT Press, 1991. 

3 "Facts and Figures," Multichannel News. December 
16, 1991. 

"•Research Alert, Ibid., p. 151. 

5 A study by Waterman and Grant (1991) of "Cable 
Television as an Aftermaiket" found that (1 ) program- 
ming hours on cable are skewed toward aftermarket 
offerings from commercial broadcast media and the- 
atrical release, and (2) that cable's role as a producer of 
narrowcast programming "may be surpassed by its 
function as a co-producer of relatively broad-appeal 
programming" (p. 179). 



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